The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi feels Jaipur heat
- Protesters block key roads and hold up rush-hour traffic as talks get under way

New Delhi, May 31: Shubra Arora left home for work early in the morning. The Gurgaon resident reached her Connaught Place office, normally a 40-minute drive, sometime in the afternoon.

Angry Gujjars, protesting over Tuesday’s firing, gave anxious moments to Delhi today when they blocked highways leading to the busy satellite towns of Noida, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Panipat.

Police cleared the roads, but not before Gujjar mobs had demonstrated that the Rajasthan backlash can affect the golden triangle of the Agra-Delhi-Jaipur tourism circuit.

The rush-hour blockade was enough to set alarm bells ringing in the national capital. The Union home ministry swung into action, alerting forces in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, as Delhi is surrounded by areas that have a high concentration of Gujjars.

From Panipat in the north to Ghaziabad and Hapur in the east and Faridabad in the south, Gujjars account for a sizeable chunk of the population in these places.

In what appeared to be a planned move by splinter Gujjar groups that have sprung up overnight to show solidarity with their fellow kinsmen in Rajasthan, major roads were simultaneously targeted for disruption. The Delhi-Jaipur highway remained closed to traffic for the second day as Gujjar protesters blocked the road at several points.

One of the worst hit areas was the IT hub of Gurgaon where the busy Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, a lifeline between Delhi and the suburb, was blocked for several hours. Thousands of people travelling to and from Gurgaon by this road were caught in a jam that stretched over 10 kilometres.

“I started early but was able to reach my office in Connaught Place in the afternoon,” said Shubra.

A large number of Gujjars turned up on the Delhi-Faridabad highway and tried to stop traffic. The protesters also tried to torch vehicles but timely action by the cops prevented the situation from taking an ugly turn.

Sporadic incidents of violence were also reported from Meerut near Ghaziabad and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

A group of Gujjars held a demonstration outside the south Delhi residence of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia.

All trains to Rajasthan from Delhi have been cancelled.

Those headed for Gujarat and Maharashtra through the violence-hit state have been either re-routed or cancelled. A railway spokesperson said 23 trains have been cancelled in the wake of the agitation over Scheduled Tribe status.

Tourism sources said their business hadn’t suffered yet. “No cancellations have been reported,” said a tour operator. “But the agitation will have an impact if it lasts long.”

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