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Delhiites welcome New Year at pubs, malls and anti-CAA protest sites

NEW DELHI: On the New Year’s eve, protest sites turned into celebration venues for scores of Delhiites who braved a chilly winter night to oppose the CAA, while several others thronged restaurants, pubs, malls and other public spaces to bid goodbye to 2019 as police remained on the toes.

Anticipating huge crowd on the New Year’s Eve, the Delhi Metro had restricted exit from the busy Rajiv Chowk station.

The Delhi Traffic Police had imposed specific restrictions from 8 pm onwards in the vicinity of Connaught Place (CP) and nearby areas.

No vehicular traffic was allowed in CP’s inner, middle and outer circle.

“I have come at India Gate along with my family to celebrate new year. This time, we are not seeing much crowd here and police have blocked the India Gate premises and are not letting anyone go inside,” said Mukesh Sangwan, 48, a businessman. A newly married couple also turned to India Gate for the celebration of new year.”

“I have come here with my wife. This is our first new year together as we recently got married. The area of India Gate is closed and we are thinking to go to Connaught Place for dinner,” said Rahul Bishnoi, 29, who works at an MNC in Gurgaon.

Security was beefed up across the national capital, especially in the vicinity of markets, malls, five-star hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars, in order to ensure orderly celebrations.

All PCR vans, Raftaar motorcycles and Prakhar vans were dynamically deployed at vulnerable points, according to police officials.

Adeel Khan, a 29-year-old student, who was at the CP for the celebrations said, “It is less crowded here this time.

I have been coming here from the last two-three years.

Roads are closed and people have to walk to reach here”.

With fog over Connaught Place, some people were roaming its inner circle with vuvuzela in their hands and making sounds.

Sridhar Shukla, a samosa seller, said he served the delicacy to many people and expressed satisfaction over the day’s business.

There were gatherings at major markets and popular party hotspots, including Select City Walk mall in Saket, Nehru Place, Khan Market, Rajouri Garden and Connaught Place.

“We faced inconvenience in reaching Connaught Place. We had to park our car near Barakhambha and walked all the way to CP. I am with my college friends. We will enjoy here and have plans to go to Murthal for a long drive and late-night dinner,” said Vaibhav Sharma, 24, a Delhi University student.

Thousands of people gathered at Shaheen Bagh, the venue of a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, on Tuesday night to welcome 2020 with the hope that the new year will see the law being repealed.

Meher, 16, and her brother Aman, 12, held placards in their hands, both handwritten poetries.

“I am not into the Hindu-Muslim divide, my only concern is that the law discriminates on grounds of religion and that should never happen in India,” the Class 11 student told PTI.

Their father, Mohammed Furqan, said the children on their own chose to come to the protest on a cold night.

“We have been coming to this venue regularly now and also going to other protest venues nearby, like the Jamia University. The children now have access to TV and internet and themselves realise what they need to do,” the 46-year-old businessman said.