As I wanted to review the police stations in Panchkula, I deliberately decided to visit at night. I went to the Ramgarh police post ahead of Nada Sahib gurudwara at about 9pm.
Going inside I saw a boy who identified himself as Vijay. He asked me whom I wanted to meet. I told him that I was harassed by a group of boys and wanted to lodge a complaint, to which he replied, “Saab khana kha rahe hai. Aap baith jao (Sir is having his dinner. You may sit down).” I told him it was urgent and the offenders could be arrested if the police acted fast.
Reluctantly, he went upstairs and came back with the message that I would have to wait. I made another desperate effort and said it was urgent. Another man appeared, said he was the cook, and told me it would take the in-charge “a while”.
I decided to go upstairs and barge into the room, but from the opposite room came out a man wearing just a vest, soap in hand and a towel on his shoulders. Smiling, he told me he was the ASI posted at Sector 2 and asked me what I wanted. I repeated my story. He asked Vijay to call the in-charge, who was actually the munshi. Finally, after at least 15 minutes, munshi Sandeep appeared.
As I questioned him over his behaviour, he replied, “Khana bhi to khana hota hai. Aap ab bata do kya hua. (One has to eat too. You can tell me now what happened.” Shocked, I told him that by now the boys harassing me would have driven far. But he was more interested in telling me how he was alone on duty and had just gone to have his dinner. He told me if I was harassed I should have called the helpline number 1091, “rather than coming to the police post”.
I said the call was not getting connected, and since the post was around, I chose to come. I asked him for a woman official to write down my complaint, to which he said she would have to be called. Not once did anyone ask me if I had even noted down the vehicle number of those harassing me. Not wanting to argue further, I left in a huff.
Next day, at 7pm, I went to Panchkula’s Sector-7 police post. The area is considered to be ‘posh’, and its market is the busiest in the city. The post is located in the interiors of the sector, and the road is not well-lit.
At the entry, I saw two cops in civil clothes (they confirmed it later). I stood there for a while, but as they did not ask me why I was there, I approached them with the complaint that two men had misbehaved with me in the market and I wanted to lodge a complaint.
The moment I said that, one of two cops, who later identified himself only as Ram Singh, started talking on the phone. I asked the other cop why he was not taking down my complaint, he told me to remain quiet, saying that the other person was “dealing with a sessions judge”. As I told him the boys might still be in the market, he curtly told me that I should write my complaint on paper and they would “see what needs to be done”.
Ram Singh finished his phone call and told me he was the munshi. He finally asked me if I had noted down the bike number of the two miscreants. I requested him to come with me to the market, but he said he couldn’t as he was in civil dress. I asked him where were the others, to which he said that the in-charge had gone out for patrolling.
After 15 minutes, he called the in-charge and requested him to reach Sector 7. Ram Singh told me that the in-charge was in Sector 6 and had said he could not reach Sector 7. Distance between the two sectors is less than a kilometre.
Tomorrow: Women in police
Complained to cops about Sexual harassment?
SAS Nagar 13%
‘A man leaned on my shoulder… guys around just kept staring’
Last month, I boarded a Volvo deluxe bus from ISBT-43 to go to Bathinda. Since I was travelling alone, I told the driver that I wanted to sit on the first seat, as the first four seats in any bus are reserved for women. Though he was reluctant initially, he did accept my request upon insistence.
Soon after, the conductor came and sat next to me. Though I protested, he continued to sit there.
I was feeling uncomfortable as he pretended to sleep and continued to lean on my shoulder. I kept asking him to sit properly. He sat upright for a while, and then again leaned on me. Though it was a pay-per-seat deluxe bus with a high fare of `610, the conductor placed additional stools in the aisle, the space between the seats, and a group of boys who boarded the bus midway sat on them.
I was dressed in western clothes, and the guys who sat on the stools continued to stare at me. Fed up, I took out a scarf and tied it on my face. No one, the bus staff or fellow passenger, was bothered at my plight. I had to remain like that till the end of the journey as I did not want to invite trouble by protesting too much.
The government needs to implement norms for safety of women in public transport. This is not the kind of treatment a girl should face.
(A 22-year-old student of mass communications at PU, writer is native of Delhi)
OFFICIAL SPEAK: Trying to do our best
Ashwin Shenvi, deputy commissioner of police, Panchkula
VOX POP: Is it hard for women to visit police stations?
Police stations should also have woman cops. The very idea of going to a police station brings about a fear in our mind. Even the police’s behavior is not very welcoming.
Jasleen Kaur, student, Chandigarh Need all-woman stations
All-woman police stations need to come up in all the cities. It’s a pity that police stations are generally not considered to be a safe place for women, what to speak of registering complaints.
Vidya Laxmi, student, Chandigarh
There should be woman cops besides dealing with female complainants in a gentle manner. The administration has failed to implement necessary guidelines to ensure women do not feel unsafe.
Ajay Jagga, Chandigarh-based advocate
Be friendly, in general
There should be a reasonable number of woman cops at police stations. In large numbers, they will also feel safer working with male colleagues. Generally, police stations should be more people-friendly.
HC Arora, information activist and lawyer
Police stations are supposed to be safe. But the reality is opposite. Authorities need to work hard towards changing their image. More woman cops need to be deployed.
Sonia Saluja, Nawanshahar native in Chandigarh
Prefer the helpine
Instead of going to the police station, I will prefer making a call at the police helpline. I will need to overcome my hesitance for going to the station. We need steps to make police stations friendly places.
Abha Sood, IT professional, SAS Nagar