Known for its rustic ways, diktats of khaps, poor sex ratio and low women literacy rate, Rohtak will now be recognised for a new initiative of female-driven auto-rickshaws for women.
The project undertaken by the Rohtak traffic police in collaboration with the Road Safety Organisation (RSO) will not only ensure safe ride for female commuters but also provide an opportunity to jobless women.
In the first phase, four pink autos were started on a trial basis to provide hassle-free ride to women. Now, another four autos with woman drivers will come on the roads soon.
Promila, who is among the four women being given training for the job, has expressed her desire to be the first woman auto driver in Rohtak.
"Yes, I will drive the auto and am already being trained for it. In fact, every woman wants to live in a free environment, but does not dare to break the shackles of old traditions," Promila told Hindustan Times.
"I have taken the plunge as I am aware of the problems women face in autos and buses. Woman drivers may ensure safe ride for our daughters", said Promila, mother of three children, including two girls.
Along with Promila, three other women Sapna, Jyoti and Lakshami also approached the RSO to become auto drivers and are currently taking training.
Lakshami Saini, who is a widow, said, "After the death of my husband, I was facing problems to feed my family. Now I want to become an auto driver, as it will not only give me an opportunity to feed my four children, but also help women to get a safer ride".
An auto driver, Pardeep Badhdwar, has agreed to train these woman drivers free of charge. He spends two-three hours evrey day on their training in an open ground.
Also, city-based Shivam Atul Auto has offered `11,000 discount on purchase of autos with pink covers, designed for woman drivers.
Rohtak superintendent of police Shashank Anand said, "As Rohtak has several big educational institutions, safe commuting always remained a major challenge for girls. We discussed the idea with RSO and got a very good response".
"Four pink autos are already running in the city. Now, the woman drivers are also coming forward. We have set the target to take the number of pink autos to 40 in the next four months", the SP said.
"Moreover, to make pink autos the first choice of girl students, we have got the permission to run these autos inside the educational institutions," he added.
RSO's senior vice-president Rajesh Tinu said, "We were working on this idea for the past three months since the number of autos has increased manifolds, but women's safety has been a major challenge".
He added, "We will also help woman drivers to buy autos on easy installments".