“I had come to India Gate four years ago and enjoyed the pleasure of going up to the Amar Jawan Jyoti, relaxing on the lush green lawns and boating. But this time round when I have come here, all I can witness is the disappointment of my two children,” said Kiran Reddy, a tourist from Hyderabad while standing near the barricades put on Rajpath to secure the monument.
Her disappointment was shared by another tourist who had come from Coimbatore with her son and daughter. For Sushila Iyengar this was her first visit to Delhi. Braving the hot sun, she had come to India Gate as she had heard a lot about it. But not being able to walk right up to the monument came as a big let down for her and her children.
“We wanted to see the eternal flame, which commemorates the Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during World War I,’’ she said. “But from here one can hardly see it,’’ she rued. This is the case with almost all the visitors who are now suffering due to the insistence of certain political and other groups to hold protests at India Gate in order to gain extra mileage.
Following the violence at India Gate in the wake of the December 16 gang-rape case, in which a policeman was killed, the entry of visitors and street vendors to India Gate was restricted. “Tourists are allowed to go only up till the barricades, but as there is no parking space tourists no longer prefer to stop at India Gate. This is causing great financial loss to us,’’ said a vendor who sells small toys.
A street vendor at the venue said while for about a month there was some relaxation in the restrictions, in the wake of the recent protests over the court ruling in the 1984 riots case, the barricading started again. “The barricades used to be removed in between for about a month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. but now again from April 18 there has been permanent restriction for the visitors to enter.”
But now, once again, there are signs of normalcy returning. Before 10 every morning, when security is less, people are able to go up to Amar Jawan Jyoti, said some vendors.
A Delhi Traffic Police personnel, deployed at India Gate, said the monument was losing its charm among tourists as they are not allowed to park their vehicles anywhere close to it.
“The people who get their vehicles here ask us for parking space but we have no answer for them,’’ he said.
A local tourist offered a solution to the problem thus: “The protesters are identifiable; if the government claims to be doing this to prevent protesters from creating distress in the city then a second thought should be given to how India Gate can be protected while at the same time not denying the right of the ordinary citizens to see this war memorial.’’