For the last three years, hockey and kabaddi champs Rashi, Sheetal and Ritu have been using their coordination, agility and courage to bring laurels for their college at the national stage. Last week, the three 20-year-olds nabbed a mobile phone snatcher in west Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh.
But it was not the first time that they fought off rogue men. Be it molesters in buses, or men harassing women on roads, the trio has been taking on such elements.
The third-year students of Delhi University’s Shyama Prasad Mukherji College for Women, the players had boarded a low-floor DTC bus at Nangloi Depot last Friday. Two alleged snatchers followed them into the bus and snatched Rashi Sharma’s mobile phone while she was buying a ticket.
“Within seconds, the duo jumped off the moving bus through the rear door. We wasted no time in alerting the bus driver to stop the vehicle,” said Sheetal Pawar, resident of Najafgarh. The trio jumped off the bus and saw the two snatchers running away in separate directions.
“Ritu and I have been hockey teammates for three years. Sheetal is a kabaddi player, but she often practises with us. Soon we coordinated and chased the snatchers. Sheetal and I targeted one man and Ritu went after the other,” Rashi told HT on Thursday, hours after the trio was felicitated for their bravery by Vijay Kumar, DCP (west).
“We were able to surround the snatchers after a few minutes, but the two snatchers fought back and hit us to scare us,” said Ritu, resident of Sonepat.
The women initially took a cautious approach, but when the snatchers would not concede, Rashi repeatedly punched one of the accused in his face until her friends pulled her away. “When he started bleeding, he made a sudden dash and escaped. But we managed to hold on to the other snatcher, Sunny, till the police arrived,” said Rashi.
While the girls were struggling, people stood and watched and no one allegedly came to help. “The only person who helped us a little was an elderly man,” said Rashi. They alleged that soon after the snatching, the women had pleaded with a group of traffic personnel on the road, but received no help.
“They flatly refused saying it was not their job and that we should dial 100 for help or chase them ourselves,” alleged Rashi, daughter of a grocery shop owner in west Delhi’s Madipur.
Sunny confessed to his involvement in a series of snatching incidents. A hunt is on for his associate. The snatched mobile phone was recovered from the accused from the spot.
While the incident left the parents of some of these women scared for their children’s safety, the women said they have decided to go for self-defence classes by the Delhi Police. They feel it will help them overcome the hesitation they felt when the snatchers first assaulted them.
“We often encounter men who try to touch us inappropriately while travelling in buses. Generally, we scare them off by showing our hockey sticks. But there have been occasions when it leads to physical confrontation while,” said Rashi.
Two months ago, Ritu and Rashi were walking on the road when they saw a man harassing a girl who was telling him to keep away. The man initially tried to scare them away, but the women chased him away with their hockey sticks.