Private buses in Madhya Pradesh capital continue to remain unsafe for women despite loud promises of safety by the police and the administration after a recent rape case on a minibus.
On September 16, a 35-year-old woman was allegedly raped on a moving minibus in the MP Nagar area.
An 18-year-old student from Kanpur had a harrowing five- minute ride on a minibus in the same area recently, which she feared could have turned into a Nirbhaya-like nightmare, had she not jumped out of the bus in time.
On December 13, Tammana (name changed) boarded a minibus from MP Nagar, where she is pursuing her internship, for her hostel in Arera Colony at 8.30 pm as she had missed the government-run MyBus service that day.
The bus, she recalled, was marked Number 7, had five passengers inside. But after she boarded the bus, she realised that they were a pack of goons, who started misbehaving with her and passing obscene comments at her, which scared her.
She got further apprehensions as even the bus driver laughed her repeated requests to stop the bus. However, as the bus slowed down near Pragati Petrol Pump, she jumped out of the bus and heard men shouting mockingly at her ‘Madam! We are not going to rape you. Come aboard, we just want to serve you ( with a menacing intent).’
Tammana said, “I received minor injuries in the incident but I will never forget the trauma of spending those five minutes on the bus. I may have been raped or killed, had I not jumped from the bus,” she said, adding no help came from anybody. The state BJP office is hardly a stone’s throw away from the spot.
Tammana somehow reached her hostel and informed her mother in Kanpur, who came rushing to Bhopal the next day.
When asked why she didn’t lodge a complaint with the police, she said her mother asked her not to and hired for her an autorickshaw instead for daily travel.
However, her close-friend Shivani (name changed), who accompanied her to the HT office, said that Tammana was in a bad shape and couldn’t note down the registration number of the minibus in a rush to save herself. Later, she decided not to register any complaint with the police as, like other girls, she too had lost faith in the police.
Tammana said it was a matter of concern that such things were happening in the busiest and high-profile areas of Bhopal.
Women activist Prathna Mishra said that a number of studies had pointed out that the public transport was not safe for women yet the state government, the district administration and the police had done nothing in this regard.
She regretted that the police were still not sensitive to the women’s safety and the decision of the girl not to lodge a complaint was a reflection a growing distrust in the police.
Bhopal senior superintendent of police (SSP) Raman Singh Sikarwar, however, assured that the police were taking initiative to provide safety to women in public transport and otherwise. “I will again initiate the checking of minibuses,” he said.