New Delhi: Amid severe protests against the gang rape of 23-year-old in the national capital, the venue of the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimar Putin has been shifted to the Race Course residence of the Prime Minister.

Putin eyes arms deal on India visit
    
Usually, such meetings are held in Hyderabad House which is close to India Gate, the scene of protests in the last two days.

Russian President is intended to help cement Russia's position in the growing Indian market and reinvigorate political ties on his one-day visit.
    
The heart of the national capital was on Monday turned into a fortress with heavy deployment of police who blocked roads leading to India Gate and Raisina Hill to ensure that no protests take place there but the arrangements put commuters at severe hardship.

Office goers and students were the most affected due to blockade of roads and closure of nine metro stations near India Gate and Raisina Hill.

Police blocked Rafi Marg from both sides and one carriage way of Ashoka Road, Copernicus Marg and other stretches around the India Gate.
    
Employees had a tough time reaching their offices in Krishi Bhavan, Shastri Bhavan, Rail Bhavan and Nirman Bhavan as police did not allow crossing Rajpath. Buses were diverted through longer routes.
    
There were heavy barricading on Rafi Marg and Raisina Road and employees heading to South Bloc and North Bloc had to argue with policemen and show their identity cards to them.
    
People heading to Connaught Place from South Delhi and vice versa had severe problems in commuting.
    
Media persons were also not allowed near India Gate or Raisina Hill and were asked to go to Pragati Maidan.

The midnight announcement of closure of Rajiv Chowk Metro station apart from eight other stations caught many unawares and people were seen arguing with security personnel to allow them to get out of it.
    
Eight stations, except Rajiv Chowk remained closed yesterday as well but it did not have much impact yesterday being a Sunday. Since offices reopened today and Rajiv Chowk was also shut, hundreds of passengers were stranded.
    
Some auto drivers sought to take full advantage of the problem and demanded exhorbitant rates.
    
"I had to come from Udyog Bhavan to Jantar Mantar. As Rafi Marg was closed, I had to come through Mother Crescent Road and it was 5-6 kilometres but I had to shell out Rs 200. Otherwise it would have come around Rs 40. They are fleecing.
    
"If police is closing everything, then they should also ensure that auto drivers don't fleece us," said Sanjay Suri, an accountant working in Connaught Place.

JPN/Agencies

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