Exactly a month after the brutal bus gangrape in Delhi, 8 HT City reporters recount their journey back home to see if things have changed.
Subhash Nagar scare
It may be one of the most popular stretches in West Delhi, but on this evening, there was only one policeman to be seen around Pacific Mall, situated between Subhash Nagar and Tagore Garden metro stations. Many young people hang out here, but the stretch is still secluded and the street lights don’t work. Of late, I did see some police barriers crop up but there were none on this day. I walked carefully and alert, remembering how at this very place on Christmas last year, a friend of mine was attacked by three men who even had a knife. Thankfully, he got away that day, but the danger of the dark still looms large.
No auto to Dwarka
For the past four years, I’ve been taking an auto from office to Dwarka, and every day has been an ordeal. Most auto drivers zoom off without a word when I say Dwarka and others shake their head and say, ‘Dwariiiika nahi jaa paayenge.’ If at all I expected the situation to change in the past one month, it hasn’t. I don’t even remember the last time I took a metered auto. Close to 8pm, when I stepped out of office, most autos refused to ferry me, and one even asked me to take the metro! Half an hour later, I found one that agreed to take me for a reasonable sum (a very rare occurrence), but not by the meter.
He wanted to thrash me
As I drove from KG Marg to the Mandi House roundabout, a big white sedan kept coming in my direction aggressively, as if the driver wanted to bang into my car. When I glared, the driver started making obscene gestures. I ignored, but he didn’t back down and kept trying to bump into my car. Finally I rolled down my window and shouted at him. Seeing me do that, he made gestures to show he wanted to thrash me for daring to shout. I tried taking down the number but couldn’t, owing to traffic movement. Before I knew it, he turned to a different road.
Harassed in Noida
Last night, as I was walking down the exit steps of the Noida City Centre metro station, auto drivers had already crowded the steps and began hounding me, constantly asking me where I wanted to go. I was forced to raise my voice and tell them to stop troubling me. Next, I had to shout my way out of the traffic chaos that was caused by the shared autos that lined up the pedestrian path, making it impossible for commuters to cross. When I told one of the drivers that they’re parking in the wrong lane and I’d call the police, he laughed in my face and told me to go ahead.
Car-o-bar control in Kishangarh
At around 8.45 pm on my way back to Chhatarpur, where I live, hunger had me stop the car at one of the kathi roll vendors located in Kishangarh near Vasant Kunj. I was pretty surprised to find out that the seller had been asked by police to shut shop before 9pm; they would take away all his stuff if he didn’t, the scared man told me. It was presumably the practice of in-car drinking or ‘car-o-bar’ in the area that had caused such a step. A good initiative, I thought, but this also means no cheap street food after 9pm.
Badarpur: verbal rape every day
I alight at the Badarpur Metro station, near the Faridabad-Delhi border, which is closest to my house. The lights go off in the subway, leaving me frozen in pitch dark. Empty DTC buses and trucks are lined up under the criss-crossing lines of the overhead Metro track and the Agra-Mathura road flyover. The drivers and helpers in these vehicles, shabby and drunk, ogle and ask me to take a lift. They even break alcohol bottles to attract attention. The men pee, flashing privates. Idhar aa jaa, khush kar dunga, one said yesterday. No PCR vans, no cops. I continue to get raped verbally, every day.
Connaught Place of perverts
Though I usually avail of the office cab facility for a drop-off after late hours, I decided to walk down to Rajiv Chowk to take the metro to Vasant Kunj yesterday. Apart from being stared at and often having to hear men singing silly songs to attract attention, a man walking in my direction shifted to my side suddenly, in order to brush against me and touch inappropriately. I, however, stepped away in time and angrily shouted at him, “Seedha chalna seekh lo.” Just another day, another such incident. No checks, no help! Shruti Dargan
In Gurgaon, Pink autos a no-go
Since the road from Sikandarpur Metro station to DLF phase II has no street lights, I got out at MG Road metro station to take an auto. The autowallahs asked me for R60 for a 1 km distance. I set out to find the new pink autos launched for women last week. Except for their colour, they were no different from the regular ones. When I asked the driver if there was a panic button for safety or GPS (as claimed by reports), he retorted, Yeh kya hota hai? Govt ne sirf hamein yahan parking ki jagah di hai. Baki sab kharcha hum khud karte hain." A cop closeby said she had no clue either.
Heights of paranoia!
After the gangrape, girls have started to see every guy in the same light, as someone looking to harass them in a public place. I got a taste of their paranoia while on my way back home yesterday. Metro trains are massively crowded during office hours, and standing untouched is almost impossible. As my train stopped at Rajiv Chowk and the sea of office-goers pushed me back and forth on their way, I accidently bumped into a girl’s back. She turned back instantly and started shouting, accusing me of misbehaving and having no manners. I politely apologised and told her it was an accident and I had no evil intentions, but no one seemed to believe me. I stood frozen for the rest of my journey.