Braving chilly weather and severe air pollution, thousands of Delhiites, soaked in festive spirit, thronged restaurants, pubs and malls and lounged in open public spaces at India Gate and Connaught Place to celebrate the New Year with police remaining on the toes to avert any untoward incident.
Celebrations largely remained peaceful in the city on Tuesday, however, an eight-year-old boy died of bullet injuries he suffered during celebrations on December 31 night in northeast Delhi’s Usmanpur area, police said.Though mercury was on the lower side, the sun shone bright during the day, as massive gatherings were witnessed at major markets and popular party hotspots, including Saket Select City Walk, Nehru Place, Khan Market, Rajouri Garden and Connaught Place. This led to choked roads and slow traffic movements around the city. Vehicles parked along roads also added to the woes of commuters.
The swelling crowd prompted the Delhi Metro to close exit facilities at four major stations in central Delhi, including the ones at Pragati Maidan and Central Secretariat.Exits at four stations — Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhavan, Mandi House and Pragati Maidan metro stations — were closed since afternoon due to swelling crowd, a DMRC official said, adding normal operations were restored around 7:30 pm.
Police said around 75,000-80,000 people gathered at India Gate lawns which caused heavy congestion in and around the area.Buses going towards India Gate were diverted as a measure to control the situation, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Alok Kumar said.”Traffic remained heavy in places like India Gate, Delhi Zoo, Hanuman Mandir near Connaught Place, Kalkaji Temple, Birla Mandir, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib. The stretch from the Ring Road which goes towards the zoo was closed for a brief period during the afternoon because of high pedestrian movement,” Kumar added.
Mayuri Sharma, a B.Sc. student, complained about traffic congestion as it took her more than an hour-and-a-half to cover an 8 km distance. “The traffic was really bad and it seemed a huge number of citizens were out in the streets, heading towards central Delhi to celebrate the New Year,” she said.India Gate and Connaught Place are popular hangout spaces for people, on special occasions and otherwise.With minimum temperature settling at four degrees Celsius, many revellers indulged in indoor celebrations hosted at various hotels, malls, restaurants, pubs and farmhouses. However, air quality of the city oscillated between ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ causing some discomfort.
Police on Monday had advised visitors, heading out for celebrations, to use public transport as there is an acute shortage of parking space at India Gate.The security arrangements at major markets and crowded destinations have been beefed up to ensure celebrations go off smoothly with special traffic arrangements made to regulate pedestrian movements, police said.
Security around central Delhi was heightened with emphasis on putting a check on stunt bikers and people resorting to drunken-driving, a senior police official said.Over 500 drunken revellers, most of them youngsters, were penalised by the Delhi Police on New Year’s eve, officials said. A total of 509 challans were issued for drunken-driving cases till Tuesday morning.
In another incident, a 12-year-old boy was shot at during New Year celebrations at around 12:30 am on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday in northeast Delhi’s Welcome area, police said. The boy sustained a gunshot injury in his shoulder. He was admitted to Jag Pravesh Chandra (JPC) hospital from where he was later referred to Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, the officer said, adding, the boy is now out of danger.