As many as 80 rickshawpullers have been efficiently providing grassroots surveillance, giving petty criminals a hard time and helping secure central Delhi's Paharganj area. These rickshawpullers have been guarding the area in their own little way for more than a week now.
They have been engaged since October 1. Apart from making sure that foreign visitors have an easy time reaching their destination, they have been also keeping an eye on each nook and corner of the crowded market area, which is full of bylanes, said Denson Joseph, president, Jagruk Nagrik Surksha Sangh (JNSS), a local NGO.
The idea was conceived after 27-year-old Mohammad Salim, a rickshawpuller, confronted two bike-borne assailants, who had opened fire on two Tiwanese tourists visiting north Delhi's Jama Masjid on September 19.
"We approached those staying at and plying their rickshaws on the Ramakrishna Ashram Marg, Main Bazar and the New Delhi Railway Station areas following Salim's example. They were briefed and sensitized from September 27th to 30 and engaged the very next day, said Anjan Samal, general secretary, JNSS.
Dressed in dark green JNSS T-shirts, these rickshawpullers keep an eye on everyone - from drug addicts to petty criminals in the entire area.
"We are simply fighting fire with fire. Paharganj has been targetted by terrorists on two different occasions. On both occasions, the perpetrators had taken the pain to recce the entire area on foot before planning the attack. On a daily basis, we visit the remotest areas of the market and hence have a better understanding of the area, said Ram Manohar Singh (45), one of rickshawpullers.
Each of the 80 rickshawpullers, who have been engaged for the project, reports at a specific location as and when a suspicious person or activity is observed.
"As soon as we get any information, a group of volunteers visits the said location to investigate the matter on two motorcycles manned by our volunteers and procured for the purpose," said a volunteer.
What's more, their efforts have borne fruit with half-a-dozen pickpockets, some drug addicts and a few persons with suspicious credentials being brought to the local police's notice in the past week.
"We will be compensating them sufficiently as per their performance at the end of the Games," Joseph added.