The parks are empty. The children do not come here any more — they are playing indoor games. Parents fearful for the safety of their children have prohibited them from playing in public parks across the sprawling Sector 31 neighbourhood where the deaths took place. The parks that children here used to scamper and jostle in, and play cricket and football, are now desolate.
“Now my parents have told me not to go alone to park. Though we used to play cricket with 11 players in each team, now we cannot find four players to play,” said Nithari resident Gaurav, 15, whose father works as a driver in a private company. “So many children have stopped coming here.”
Police have confirmed the deaths of at least 17 people – mostly children. The few children who venture out now come only when they are escorted by elders. "One elder member must accompany the children while they are playing in the park. Children are not left alone even for a minute. Strangers in the area are questioned immediately by the residents,” said BR Dixit, 69, the lone man sitting in the park. It was different earlier. The parks across the area bustled with the noise of happy children and the chatter of evening walkers.
"Since the Nithari killings, barely any children come to play at the park. Though I used to sell over 100 bhelpuris in a day earlier, these days I get just 5 to 8 customers from this park,” bhelpuri vendor Gulesar said at the C-Block park, the largest in the area.
Many other parks are completely deserted.
“I do not have a job these days, so my brother has told me to keep a watch on the boys and strangers in the park,” said 20-year-old Mushtaq, a local resident. “Parents are not sending their daughters outside homes. Girls are not even allowed to play in the street. They have been asked to play indoor games."
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