Security owing to Narendra Modi’s visit had forced many to remain indoors
Motorists in the city, especially those in South Chennai and suburbs, breathed easy after Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi left for Kerala on Sunday afternoon.
The security clampdown since Friday evening had forced many residents to remain indoors. Though Mr. Modi touched down at the airport only around 7.30 p.m. on Saturday, Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road had come under a thick blanket of security from Friday evening.
“I think security measures a day ahead of a VIP visit and that too, in areas totally unconnected with the rally was uncalled for,” said S. Sundar, a resident of St. Thomas Mount, who had to open his car for police checks at three spots in the city on Friday night.
Checking of vehicles was done all across the city and Anna Salai and arterial roads linking to it were choked with traffic. From 5 p.m. on Saturday, Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses heading towards Guduvanchery and Chengalpattu were diverted at Perungalathur and forced to take a circuitous route through Sadanandapuram and Kandigai on Vandalur – Kelambakkam Road before entering GST Road at Guduvanchery after passing through Keerapakkam.
A group of students from New Delhi, who are volunteers with Citizens for Accountability and Governance, lost their way once the buses were diverted at Perungalathur. Some others like R. Sunderrajan said the security measures were an overkill and that the police did a better job in handling traffic at Mr. Modi’s earlier meeting in Tiruchi. People had to walk for at least three kilometres from both directions of the venue for the public meeting on Saturday, he said.
Buses carrying party activists were parked inside Shriram IT Gateway, while vans were permitted to travel closer to the venue. Buses from Chengalpattu were parked at a government school in Guduvanchery. Traffic policemen deflected criticism stating that they had to take foolproof security arrangements and it paid dividends as no untoward incident was reported in the past couple of days. Traffic snarls were restricted to the minimum and traffic was allowed on GST Road even when Mr. Modi was addressing the rally.
People travelling in government and private buses and their personal vehicles towards the southern districts were delayed on Saturday evening and also, for some time on Sunday morning, when Mr. Modi addressed the convocation at SRM University in Kattankulathur.
It was only after he left Chennai for Kerala that residents and the policemen breathed easy.
A sub-inspector attached to Kancheepuram district police said many of them were on ‘bandobust’ (security) duty without a break since Friday and hoped for at least a day’s rest.