New Delhi, Jan 1: India today rang in 2008 in a cheerful and merry manner, amid tight security. As the clock struck 0000hrs, frenzied crowds in the midst of country's main cities, metropolitan and provincial cities ushered in the New Year in a mood of gay festivity and abandon.
Markets, decorated with lights, wore a festive look as shoppers rushed in for their final purchases and merry-makers chilled out at eternal favourite spots in Connaught Place and India Gate in the national capital here. Janpath, Sarojini Nagar, Chandni Chowk, Lajpat Nagar and Karol Bagh had witnessed an extra rush of buyers. Five-star hotels threw open their reception halls and shopping malls had a varied choice of programmes to add to the New Year bash while restaurants and pubs added special items on their menu for the connoisseur.
Even television channels had a wide range of entertaining programmes to swing in the new year.To check the rush of revellers and tackle trouble-mongers, police had deployed a large contingent of security personnel on duty.
Traffic was regulated and restricted at several places. Connaught Place was made a no vehicle zone after 1930 hrs. Delhi Metro had also curtailed its services to ensure the safety of commuters and the Metro property from incidents of vandalism.
In Mumbai, security was beefed up at all important places including the domestic and international airports, railways stations and other areas in the city. ''Although, security in the city is already on alert after the two religious festivals, Eid-ul-Adha and Christmas, still we are taking no chance, and have further stepped up in view of the New Year revelry. Sensitive commercial areas are under surveillance and security in these areas have been strengthened,'' a police official said today.
''We are keeping a close watch on several nightspots in Juhu, Bandra, Khar and rest of the western suburbs, which are thronged by people in large numbers,'' the official added. The traffic police officials had also geared up to deal with the twin problem of drunken driving and traffic snarls.
Security was also beefed up in several parts of central Kolkata, where most hotels and discotheques are located.
DC Headquaters Vineet Goyal said that about 2,000 plain clothes policemen, along with 10 teams of personnel of the detective department, were specially deployed in various parts of the city to keep peace during the night. Traffic rules were strictly enforced in most parts of Central Kolkata and special sergeants were posted to arrest drunken and rash drivers.