Business management student Ritika Sharma's regular evening became a nightmare when three men began harassing her and her friend on a moving bus. But her attempts to reach the Delhi Police helpline were futile. And even when she decided to publicly reprimand the culprits, fellow passengers offered no help.
Sharma's is not an isolated case. Several women who have in the past been victims of sexual harassment feel helpless. Not only are helplines busy, but many deserted stretches have little or no police presence.
"My college is in Dwarka and there have been so many times when I’ve been stalked. I’ve tried to contact police's helpline, but the number is usually busy," said Arti (name changed), a student of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU).
Delhi Police officials however, claim that all their helplines were functioning smoothly. "We have several helplines where women can call in times of distress. We always take action in case of complaint," said a senior police official.
But this isn't the only thing these women complained of. Many also said the police officials in PCR vans also refuse to help. "A few men passed lewd comments at my daughter and me when we got off at the Chhatarpur Metro Station a few days ago. When I approached a nearby PCR van, the officials told me that as there was no evidence, they could not do much," said Mamta Misra, a resident of Vasant Kunj.
At Jantar Mantar
A modest group of protesters continued to camp at Jantar Mantar. Many of them had called for a Bharat Bandh on Thursday, but the bandh got little response. "People have proved their indifference to this cause. Once 15-20 days pass, people begin to lose interest," said Anil Kumar, a protester.
However, for the students from Lady Hardinge Medical College, an attempt to demand justice for the victim was thwarted by the police. Their silent walk in protest to their college with placards was not allowed as the police 'had orders to prohibit any form of protest outside Jantar Mantar'.