Tripti Chauhan, an animation student, dreads the five-minute walk through the lane in Bhawarkuan every evening. Wolf-whistles and cat-calls waft in from inside vehicles parked by the roadside or from groups of people huddled by the pavement, all of them drunk.
But it is not only Tripti's burden to bear. Across Indore city, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, roadside drinking has emerged as a major menace for the residents, especially women and girls.
In fact, residents of the city who have been harassed by these drunk groups said that police inaction have only emboldened these anti-social elements. "Not just once but several times me and my friends have been stalked by drunk people. They drink liquor in the open or inside vehicles parked outside liquor shops and create nuisance," Tripti said.
In fact, things have come to such a pass that these open-air drinkers have graduated from dimly-lit alleys and lanes to posh residential areas and public places in the heart of the city.
"Look anywhere, they are there. At Bhawarkuan, LIG Square, Bombay Hospital, MG Road are but just a few hot spots," said a city resident. Simran Kaur, a sales executive, said that people feel unsafe in walking the short distance "from Shoppers" Stop to "LIG Square" right in the middle of the city.
"People sit on the service road and drink openly. I wonder what the police are doing?" she asked. Even posh colonies like BCM Heights are not left untouched by this menace.
A visit to the colony near Vijay Nagar revealed a number of vehicles serving as makeshift bars for the evening tipplers. The reason, residents said, was the proximity to liquor shops.
"People come and booze here in the evening. It is quiet and dark here and the police hardly carry out any surveillance," said a resident of BCM Heights. Police, on their part, passed the buck to the excise department.
"The excise department which issues liquor license needs to pay special attention to this matter. Our emphasis has always been to take care of the fact that the shop closes at 10. We do not monitor it much rest for the rest of the time," said deputy inspector general of police Rakesh Gupta. He, however, added that "as this has been brought to my notice, we will look into the matter and act accordingly."