In an order reminiscent of the British era diktat ‘dogs and Indians not allowed’ in certain publics spaces, a resident welfare association of an upscale condominium complex in Gurgaon has barred drivers, domestic helps, visitors and dogs from entering a park in the colony.
This fiat against the entry of commoners in the colony’s park has been issued by Maple Heights condominium association(MHCA) in Sushant Lok 1. MHCA decided that entry of outsiders, helps, drivers and dogs in the parks would be an infringement of their privacy.
A board has been installed at the entry of the park mentioning that ‘maids, drivers, personal servants and helpers are not allowed in the park’. Any resident violating this rule would have to bear a fine of Rs 300 and it shall be added to the maintenance bill.
Drivers and domestic helps in the colony, however, are not amused by the decision. “Despite working so hard in such harsh conditions, we have been stopped from entering the park. There might come a time when they don’t allow us entry in the complex,” Ramesh, a driver, said. He feels that dignity of labour is not valued in the city.
A number of drivers and helps echoed similar views. Though they said they have been provided space for resting, their primary objection was that a direction banning them was put on a board. “Are we equivalent to pets that have also been banned?” said a help who did not wish to be named.
The association has installed benches across the colony where no one is restricted from sitting.
“The idea is to provide them (drivers, helps) space to sit and wait but sitting in the park and playing cards are not allowed. It leaves a bad impression on children as they see them smoking,” Brig (retd) VP Singh, president, MHCA, said.
The RWA said the primary reason for the ban was to ensure the safety of the residents, particularly women. “We have been hearing about incidences of harassment, molestation and abductions in the city. Thus, we decided that the park should be exclusive to the residents,” Shobhna Rastogi, secretary, cultural committee of MHCA, said.
The heavy cost of maintenance and problems caused by pet owners who refuse to clean up the premise was the reason the association banned them. “We don’t allow pets in the park as pets relieves themselves inside the park and the owners don’t bother to clean it up. But we can only ask them to follow rules...This is for cleanliness and not that we are not pet lovers,” brig (retd) Singh, said.
The MHCA said they inaugurated the park only on Sunday and a lot of effort has gone into developing it, leading to this decision.
However, animal rights activists have opposed the MHCA’s decision. “The RWA has no authority to pass any rule to ban the entry of animals to any parks. This is illegal. These RWAs have no vision and they have become bullying mechanism for animals and poor people,” Amit Chaudhery, president, People for Animals, said.