“The streets were dead dark. We had no option but to sit in the only auto-rickshaw available,” recalled Anamika Dutta, the trauma of the night still evident in her eyes.
Anamika (name changed) shifted to the Millennium City three years ago from Ghaziabad brimming with enthusiasm; pining her hopes on Gurgaon to make it big in life. But that auto journey shattered the rosy picture of Gurgaon that draw many a youngsters to the city.
The incident took place around an year ago while the 25-year-old media professional was returning from Sector 29 to her paying guest (PG) accommodation in Sector 31 with a friend at 9.30pm. “We had been out for dinner. By 9.30pm, there was just this one auto-rickshaw at the stand. Only after boarding it did we realise the driver was drunk,” said Anamika.
The driver, sporting a khaki uniform, began to speak vaguely in a wobbly tone. “Initially, he drove very slowly. Then suddenly, he accelerated. We were scared. Luckily, I was carrying a pepper spray. I took it out as we had to be prepared for the worst,” she said.
The distance from Sector 29 to Sector 31 is merely two-and-a-half kilometres — which makes it a 10-minute drive in auto. But that night, Anamika and her friend were aimlessly driven around in the only mode of public transport available for more than half-an-hour. “Instead of taking the expressway, he turned to a pitch dark arterial road. Throughout that journey, we didn’t spot even a single traffic constable or a PCR van. The streets were dark and we couldn’t even note down the auto-rickshaw’s number,” she added.
With their fingers crossed and heart on edge, they kept praying throughout that journey. Though Anamika and her friend reached home safely, the memory of that harrowing ride constantly haunts them.
According to Anamika, who hails from Ghaziabad, her stay in the city is dotted with several such incidents of unruly men trying to take advantage of her vulnerability. She left Gurgaon at the first opportunity and is currently working in New Delhi. She describes her life in Gurgaon as that of “constant anxiety”. She says that her current city, though infamous for being unsafe for women, is far more comforting.