A Torch relay that left Delhiites tortured

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New Delhi, Apr 17 (UNI) Harried commuters, rude policemen and clueless traffic personnel marked the Olympic Torch relay here today during its India leg.

What was dubbed as a moment of pride for India and its Olympic Association proved a nightmarish experience for the officegoers and the man on the street.

As Delhi turned a fortress for the 2.3 km-long run of the Olympic Torch between Rashtrapati Bhawan and India Gate, with a huge contingent of policepersons fiercely guarding the route of the Olympic Torch to ward off any protests from Tibetan activists and blocking all routes in and around Rajpath, to vehicular traffic for close to six hours, officegoers and other Delhiites going about their daily work were a harried lot, not knowing what hit them.

It was as if the entire areas in and around Central Delhi came to a standstill between 1200 hrs and 1900 hrs as the Delhi Police and Paramilitary pulled out all stops to ensure a smooth run for the Torch in India.

Long before the 2.3-km curtailed run started at around 1645 hrs, all routes leading to the Torch route were blockaded not only to the vehicular traffic but also to pedestrians going about their daily chores.

What was worse, the common people were, at many places, confronted by rude policemen who did not allow them to even go to their offices or residences located nearby.

Infact, at many places, the police personnel too seemed clueless about how long the restrictions would continue.

Mohammad Ibrahim, a resident of Kaka Nagar said, ''I had gone for some work in the Connaught Place area at around 1200 hrs. On my return from there, at 1300 hrs, I was stopped at the police barricade on the Asoka Road and told that I could not go any further. My repeated pleas that I wanted to go to my house located nearby went in vain as I was told that I had to stay at that place till the Torch run was completed. However, they were clueless about when the restrictions would end. First they told us they would allow us to go at 1600 hrs but at 1600 hrs they told us that we would have to wait till 1800 hrs. The restrictions mean a day's loss to my livelihood as I run a grocery shop near Kaka Nagar.'' Prem Lal, who works at a office in Shastri Bhawan, said I left my office at around 1600 hrs. Since no buses were operating from there, I decided to walk till Shahjahan Road from where I could catch a bus for my home in Jamia Nagar in Okhla. However, I was not allowed to go beyond Ashoka Road. Now, I have to wait till 1830 hrs before I can leave this place and it would be well past 2000 hrs before I reach my home.

I strongly feel that putting the commonman to so much restriction is unjustified just to ensure a smooth run for the Olympic Torch.

If the Indian Government is so concerned about the safety of the run, then it should have abandoned the run in India. If I had known that there was an Olympic Torch relay today, I would not have come to the office.

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