Several people who turned up with their yoga mats at Rajpath on Sunday morning to witness the International Yoga Day event and perform asanas along with the Prime Minister had to go away disappointed after they were denied entry.
The event, which saw a multi-layer security cover around Rajpath from the wee hours of Sunday was only open to school children, NCC cadets, members of Patanjali Yogpeeth and the Art of Living Foundation, besides retired and serving government officials who had been specially invited or registered as participants for the Guinness record attempt.
Palak Das (41) a vegetable vendor in Northeast Delhi came with his family to Central Secretariat Metro station around 5 AM. Despite every policeman at the heavily-guarded Metro exit telling him he could not go ahead to Rajpath, he kept trying. “We thought it was a mass event. My daughter wanted to meet the Prime Minister and learn yoga at the President’s house. So we woke up at 4 am and came here but since we do not have passes we could not attend the event,” a disappointed Das said.
With more and more such people being turned away, sloganeering was started against the Delhi Police. Officers who had been on duty since 2 am tried to reason with people, often directing them to other places like the Indraprastha Park or Lodhi Gardens where yoga sessions were being held.
“This is not an open event. It is only for special guests. You can watch it on your TV screens, practice it at your homes or go to other nearby places where yoga is being taught,” a senior officer, patiently trying to reason with an agitated crowd, said.
Another family turned up as late as 7.30 am just as the event was ending. Ravi Jaiswal (29) who came with his mother and sister was very angry. “We had to change three autos to get here from our home in Rohini, all because my mother wanted to do yoga here. We got late, but they will not even let us close enough to catch a glimpse. Why call this a mass yoga event if they will not let the masses enter?” he said.