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Public places turn unsafe zones for women

Danger Lurks: Inadequate lighting facilities, minimal police presence, no CCTV cameras and lawlessness are majorly responsible for the deteriorating law and order scenario in the tricity. From markets bustling with shoppers to dingy alleys, women continue to be in a vulnerable spot.

chandigarh Updated: Dec 05, 2013 00:15 IST
Monica Sharma

The figures speak for themselves. Be it the plush sectors or the narrow bylanes, when the night descends, danger lurks at every nook and corner of the tricity.


Having earned the dubious distinction of being unsafe, women in the tricity get jitters venturing out alone.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/StrickeISBTSec-17_12_compressed.jpg

Ranging from lewd behaviour, stalking, molestation and even rape, the tricity — Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula — has witnessed a remarkable rise in the number of women-related crimes this year.

Though the authorities concerned attribute this to increasing awareness levels among women, the rising crime graph paints a sorry picture as only a few cases are reported to the police.

Worsening the matters, several areas in the city have become unsafe zones for women as danger lurks round the corner.

Hindustan Times — in association with IDC — carried out a survey on women safety and talked to a cross-section of people, particularly women, to know which areas in the tricity are considered unsafe by them. The 10 spots, not necessarily in this order, are as follows:

Bus Standshttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Stricke ISBT Sec-17_07_compressed.jpg

The inter-state bus terminals in Chandigarh (Sector 17 and 43) and main bus stands of SAS Nagar and Panchkula, which daily witness a footfall of thousands of passengers from different states, are considered unsafe. The area is crowded throughout the day. Women say they fear visiting the terminus post sunset and during the early morning hours.

Poor-lighting facilities in the parking lot and lack of closed-circuit television cameras installed on the premises further add to their woes. The fear of pick-pocketing and snatching looms large at these places. Several incidents of pick-pocketing and thefts have been reported to the police.

Railway stationshttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Railway Station__compressed.jpg

Even though floodlights have been installed at the Chandigarh railway station, situated near Darua, it continues to make women jittery. During the early morning and late night hours, the station is usually deserted.

The road leading to the Chandigarh railway station is in a deplorable state and does not have proper lighting. The road also leads to the godowns frequented by labourers and truck drivers. During the night, presence of public transport is minimal at the stretch. This makes it difficult for women to travel alone. The SAS Nagar railway station in Kaimbwala village also wears a deserted look. There are no means of public transport. Inadequate lighting and no CCTV cameras have worsened the scenario.

Night food street

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Food Street_compressed.jpg

The night food street, opposite PGIMER in Sector 14, Chandigarh, is relatively unsafe due to several brawls reported in the last couple of years. The street remains open from 7pm to 7am. It was started with the aim to provide food at reasonable rates to students staying at Panjab University and attendants coming along with patients to PGIMER. However, the street is mostly frequented by youngsters, who consume liquor and zip past streets late in the night.

In the wake of several brawls, a police gypsy has been stationed in front of the street to avoid any untoward incident. Also, the purpose of setting up the street by the Chandigarh municipal corporation was defeated due to the exorbitant rates of delicacies and unsafe environment.

Basement parkingshttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Pink Parking_women safety-1_compressed.jpg

The basement parking, in markets and malls, make women feel insecure. The basement parking in Sector 17, Chandigarh, is not well-maintained and hardly used by women to park their vehicles. Even the sub-way leading to the Sector 17 bus stand is not frequented by women as the area is dimly lit. No CCTVs have been installed. Though CCTVs are installed at the entry and exit points of basement parkings in all shopping complexes, women still feel unsafe going there at night.

Open Parking lots

Late night lawlessness in front of lounges and night clubs in Sectors 9, 26 and 35 is not new to Chandigarh. In 2012, at least six incidents of lawlessness and misbehaviour with girls were reported in a span of six months outside discotheques in Sector 26.

The lane in Sector 26 on the Madhya Marg, right outside the lounges and discotheques is quite unsafe, especially during the late night hours.

A similar scenario can be seen at the parking lots in Sector 35. There have been several incidents of misbehaviour with girls in the parking lots of Sectors 26 and 35.

In one such incident, youths tried to huddle a girl in an inebriated state into their car. The police have deployed a dedicated gypsy outside these hangouts. However, the parking lots continue to remain vulnerable spots due to the absence of CCTV cameras. Inadequate lighting has also worsened matters. The road outside the eating joints in Sector 22 does not offer a secure environment to women at night. It is a common sight to see men consuming liquor in their cars parked on the road.

Rehri markets

Rehri markets are one of the oldest shopping places in Chandigarh. The rehri markets in Sectors 15, 19 and 22, are particularly thronged by women to buy daily commodities at reasonable rates. With the market brimming with people, incidents of groping and brushing are common.

Even though police beat boxes are set up near the rehri markets, it is of little help as the area is full to the brim. The scenario worsens during the festival season, when incidents of pick-pocketing and chain snatching become common. Though CCTV cameras have been installed at the entrance and exit points of the rehri markets, the narrow lanes leading to the shops are not under scanner.

Sec 17 Plaza and gehri routehttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/20131202_MOH-KS-CL_Plaza Sec-17 Chd_02_compressed.jpg

The Sector 17 plaza daily witnesses a huge flow of visitors. It continues to be a favourite hangout among families and youngsters on the weekends and on festival days. However, women say boys come in groups and indulge in eve-teasing and pass lewd comments.

However, there is adequate police presence, with a police beat next to the plaza, besides CCTV cameras have been installed in the corridors. The parking lot becomes a dark zone at night due to inadequate lighting facility. Several incidents of stalking have been reported at the gehri route from Sectors 9 to 11. Boys scare away girls — walking down the route — by applying sudden brakes, producing a screeching sound.

Markets in Panchkula, Yavanika Gardens

The markets of Sectors 6, 7 and 11 in Panchkula are considered to be unsafe by women. There is minimal police presence and the area is usually crowded. The Sector 6 market is deserted after 7 pm as shopkeepers down their shutters. The Yavanika Gardens (Sector 5), too, have become notorious with miscreants. The park is considered unsafe post sunset. No CCTV cameras have been installed in the area, besides no cops have been deployed.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Sector-7 Market Pkl- (1)_compressed.jpg

Markets in SAS Nagar

Markets in SAS Nagar, including Phase V and VII, are the gehri routes of the town. Many eating joints have come up in the area, making it a favourite hangout with youngsters. Boys pass lewd comments and stalk girls. The area near Sectors 67 and 68, next to PUDA Bhawan, also wears a deserted look. The area is also dimly lit.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/GP_Rose Garden-_compressed.jpg

Gardens and sector parks

Women feel insecure going to parks and gardens alone. Several incidents of chain snatchings have been reported during the early morning and evening hours. At least 100 cases of chain snatching have been reported across the city. A majority of the victims were senior citizens. However, the police have set up nakas around the parks to avert such incidents.

What steps are needed to check sexual harassment?

Suggestion Chandigarh SAS Nagar Panchkula
Involvement of NGO/ community 32 43 37
More police 13 16 17
Strong punitive /legal measures 34 41 32
Increase women cops 24 18 30
Girls should be bold 17 7 4
CCTV cameras at public places 1 0 0

Unsafe Stretcheshttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Park Women Safety_compressed.jpg

The stretches are dangerous due to inadequate lighting, poor police presence and mostly frequented by youngsters in luxury cars

* Stretch outside malls in Industrial Area, Phase 1
* Stretch near MCM College, Sector 36, and Alliance Francaise
* Stretch outside Sports Complex, Sector 42, and GCG-42
* Stretch outside Sectors 45, 47 and 48 markets
* Stretch from Phase 8-B SAS Nagar Industrial Area to Sector 71.
* Stretch under Zirakpur flyover

Where is the social change?

Yuvika Grewalhttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Yuvika Grewal_compressed.jpg

One day, I and my husband were driving back home.When we took the connecting road from Kharar to Mohali, we did not know that a horrific incident was awaiting us.

Shocked to see a girl falling on the edge of the road, we slowed down our car. Standing next to her were three motorcycle-borne miscreants, who immediately sped off. It was yet another case of eve-teasing.
Enraged, we started to chase them. My husband pressed the accelerator, while I incessantly tried the police control room number. The foreboding traffic was no threat. We managed to catch up with the motorists.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/StrickeISBTSec-43_32_compressed.jpg

Soon I realised, we were not the only ones chasing the miscreants, there were others too.

Besieged from all sides, the motorcycle rider lost balance and rammed the intersection. In no time, a crowd gathered and the trio was at the receiving end of peoples’ fury.

The hapless girl was brought to the spot. She wore a petrified look when finishing the legal formalities (formality in the strict sense of the term).

“The girl was not alone,” I mused on the way back home. We all stood up for her and against the horrific act. Finally, people have woken up to reality. The death of the Delhi gang-rape victim did not go in vain. The anger has not died down though the candles are not burning. That night, I went to bed with a consolable thought and fell asleep.

The next morning, while leafing through the newspaper, I read about a girl becoming a victim of patriarchal dominance. Where is the much-touted social change?

Have all reformatory opinions, public outcry and candle-light marches died down? Police presence has increased and stringent laws have been enforced, but what is the ground reality?

In the undercurrent lies the mentality which has not been able to free itself from the shackles of misogynistic attitude.

Alas! A woman still struggles to orient or re-orient herself to the habitat of the ‘Man-made’ jungle.
PB Shelly said, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Though things have changed, we still await the day when there will be absolute justice for the fairer sex.

VOXPOP

Most unsafe places for women in tricity?

But the Sector 17 plaza has become notorious for eve-teasing. Groups of men stalk girls and pass lewd comments. I prefer to go out with my family now as mencan target you anywhere. The police needs to wake up.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Arzoo Katyal_compressed.jpg



Arzoo Katyal, student, SD College



The road leading to DT Mall, near Manimajra, is quite unsafe. It is dimly lit at night. Women returning from late-night parties feel scared as the stretch is mostly deserted. Police presence needs to be improved at the stretch. This will benefit women.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Arshdeep Sidhu_compressed.jpg

Arshdeep Sidhu, BSc student

Boys leave no chance to pass derogatory comments. Crowded markets are unsafe due to incidents of groping. Men follow you everywhere. The rehri mahttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Stanzin Diskit_compressed.jpgrket in Sector 15 needs to have adequate police presence to check hooliganism.



Stanzin Diskit from Ladakh

Industrial area is the most unsafe place. Even though many malls have come up in the area, the situation has worsened. Youngsters visiting malls http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Aanchal Goswami_compressed.jpgpass lewd comments to girls and indulge in eve-teasing.



Aanchal Goswami, student of BA Honours

Women feel unsafe everywhere as miscreants harass them. The scenario outside colleges and educational institutes speaks for itself. Men stalk girls and even chasehttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/Perry Goswami_compressed.jpg them to their houses. More police personnel need to be deployed in the city.



Perry Goswami, fine arts student, PU

Official Speak

Efforts are being made to make public places and markets secure for residents, particularly women. Police gypsies have been deployed at vulnerable areas and nearhttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/12/SSP Naunihal singh chd_compressed.jpg educational institutions. We have urged girls to report incidents of sexual harassment. We’ve also asked them to shoot videos of men harassing women.



Naunihal Singh, UT SSP

Share your story

It’s a matter often discussed in drawing rooms, but seldom does it lead to introspection. HT invites readers — male and female — to write in with their experiences, personal and witnessed, of sexual harassment. You can choose to keep your identity hidden, and try to write in not over 250 words. Keep in mind, each story will add to the collective consciousness of a society that needs cleansing. Play your part. Talk to us at chandigarh@hindustantimes.com

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