I take the metro atleast twice a day, everyday. Once on my way to work, and once on the way back. Instinctively, I now walk straight to the stairs I know will lead me to the Ladies Compartment. Blind-folded and left to fend my way in the biggest bhul-bhullaiya in town — officially called the Rajiv Chowk metro station — I would still manage to find my way to the pink markers. It’s a skill necessary if one wishes to get out of — or for that matter, get in to — the metro, alive at most hours.
About 10 days ago, young Dharini Bhaskar got slapped and ill-treated at the Hauz Khas metro station. She had dared to occupy space in one of the General Compartments.
We’ve all been chided by security staff and passengers. “Why don’t you go to the Ladies Compartment? There’s a lot more space there”. It is genuinely difficult to understand how the “General” coach has turned into the “Men’s” coach. Or how, after 9 pm, the ladies’ coach becomes open to men. To add to Bhaskar’s woes, the security staff urged her to find a way to let go of the matter, to “ignore” it. The passengers chided her for delaying them by a good 15 minutes.
Incidents like this one are not rare on the Metro — it could have been any of us in Dharini’s place. So, here’s what you must know: according to DMRC guidelines, platforms must have female security guards present at all times. If you have a complaint you are uncomfortable sharing with a male cop, ask for a woman guard. Cops are assigned to each metro station, since reports/ FIRs regarding any incident inside metro premises can only be filed at the Kashmere Gate metro station. Insist they help you file the FIR. If nothing works, call 100/1091 (the Delhi police helpline). Call the 24-hour metro helpline, you say? (Tall claims for a metro service that runs for less than 18 hours a day.) Good luck getting through to the number.
A few weeks ago, I was taking the last train from Kashmere Gate. It did not move for 40 minutes. No technical fault, just waiting for passengers from the parallel connecting line downstairs to make their way upstairs.
No amount of pleading with the driver would make him budge. Fearing I might not find any connecting transportation from my destination metro station at 12.30 am, I called the helpline number. “The number you are trying to reach is incorrect. Please check the number you have dialled” was the response. I was dialling 011-128128, the DMRC helpline. If that is Delhi’s idea of keeping its women safe, then there is very little hope for this city.