The shameful gang rape of a woman on board a bus in New Delhi is yet another wake-up call for Uttar Pradesh too where the safety of female commuters also remains at stake.
Past incidents show that the public transport system remains as vulnerable in the state capital too as it has been in the national capital.
In the past, Lucknow too was shamed many times when modesty of female passengers was outraged by goons. The infamous incident Ida Loch Hansen, 30, a scholar from Denmark, who had been in the city working, on the issue of women welfare, was molested in a crowded bus en route from Hazratganj to Indira Nagar on June 16, 2009.
Hansen, when boarded the bus, thought she was lucky as she found a seat next to the driver’s cabin. Within seconds, a man about her age sat next to her and immediately started groping her. The Danish girl resisted the molester, screamed but none came to her rescue. Over three- dozen passengers watched the man molest Hansen over the next few minutes while she resisted. Hansen then immediately got off the bus and took an autorickshaw home.
On October 1 this year, an Uttar Pradesh cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer was arrested for allegedly molesting a woman copassenger on a Lucknow Mail. There had been a huge public outcry and the officer was sent to jail-he was later released on bail.
Sources say many such incidents take place that go unreported as victims refuse to lodge complaint fearing social stigma and legal action.
Women activists and girls whom HT contacted for comments on the issue insisted that strict actions must be taken against those indulging in girl teasing and harassment of females on trains, bus and other public transport.
They insisted on facilitating the female passengers with adequate security in trains, buses and other public transport.
Former vice-chancellor of Lucknow university and woman activist Roop Rekha Verma said, “Punishments must be in proportion to the position held by the accused. Harder punishments for the ‘responsible’ citizens would convey a better message and make the people feel more safe.”
“We have been harping on the need of fast track courts to deal with rape cases. It is high time now that the culprits of such crimes be given the most rigorous punishments at the earliest so that there is fear among the male fraternity,” said Madhu Garg, state general secretary, AIDWA.