Two months after Delhi and the nation was shaken by the horrific gang rape and murder of a paramedic student, HT went back to the streets the victims had walked, to see what, if anything at all, had changed since then.
The journey began from outside Saket’s Select Citywalk mall where the 23-year-old physiotherapist and her friend had caught an evening show of a film.
After the film, they had boarded an autorickshaw to the nearby Munirka as none of the auto drivers had been ready to take them to southwest Delhi.
Her friend’s logic -- as he would later tell the police -- had been simple: She could have boarded any bus running on route 764 till her residence in southwest Delhi.
For this HT team, however, this was somewhat difficult. When we approached an autorickshaw and asked the driver to drop us near the victim’s residence, he asked us for Rs. 250 -- almost double, if not more, than the correct fare.
There was no policeman near the bus stop whom we could have approached for help. The second one simply refused as he had had a ‘long day and could only drop us till AIIMS, where he stayed’.
Helpless, we waited for the next half an hour till we got an autorickshaw till the Munirka DDA Flats bus stop from where the couple had boarded the chartered bus.
On the way, as we trudged along the Press Enclave Road, where there was just one checkpoint near the Malviya Nagar metro station. There was no police at the darkest spots on Aruna Asaf Ali Road.
In fact, we spotted only two PCR vans patrolling the entire 2km stretch till we finally arrived at Munirka.
Here, despite the Delhi Police’s announcement of stationing at least one personnel at bus stops that are ‘vulnerable for women’, not a single policeman could be seen.
While we were looking for the nearest visible police control room (PCR) van here, which unfortunately could not be spotted anywhere, call centre cabs and taxis were seen halting illegally and soliciting passengers to earn easy bucks.
The situation at the adjacent Vasant Vihar bus spot was almost the same.
When we stood near the bus stop to observe the goings on, some of the cab drivers took us as potential customers.
Despite knowing that they will take only those passengers whose destination fall on their designated routes, we asked them to drop us at places they did not prefer.
While most refused, a couple of them agreed only if we paid their desired fare.
After Munirka, we went to Mahipalpur, where the couple had been dumped after the brutal assault.
Here, several taxis and BPO cabs could be seen illegally picking up passengers. Even though two policemen on a patrolling motorcycle were seen chasing these drivers, most of them took a U-turn and returned to their designated spots.
When questioned, Deepak Mishra, special commissioner of police (law and order), assured: “The lacunae in our deployment, as witnessed during night hours, will be enquired into and corrected at the earliest.”