Overcrowded public transport, including City Bus Service and auto-rickshaws have been identified as vulnerable spots for crime against women, especially sexual assault and snatching incidents.
In peak hours, buses and shared auto-rickshaws are overcrowded and it has been noticed that women do not get the seats reserved for them in buses, and auto drivers often accommodate about eight to ten persons to earn more.
A lecturer in Doaba College, Kadambri Nayyar said, “It is very difficult to commute by auto-rickshaw, as not only it is crowded during peak hours, but some of the commuters even use abusive language while taking calls on their mobile phones, which is quite embarrassing for women commuters.”
“Smoking inside a auto is another problem and if a woman objects, there is a threat of physical assault. There is need to regulate the autos. Even if someone complaints about a particular auto, police do not take action due to long process of locating the particular auto,” she said.
Mehak Chohan, a college student, who travels by City Bus Service, said that although some of the seats are marked as reserved for women, but most of the time they are occupied by males. “If you ask any male person to vacate the reserved seat, either he does not reciprocate or starts misbehaving. Even conductors remain mute spectators in such a situation,” she said.
Meanwhile, police sources revealed that the police control room receives a number of complaints of harassment in the public transport, but in most of the cases, either women do not lodge a written complaint, or compromise is reached.
“Women commuters on cycle rickshaws are more vulnerable to snatching incidents as witnessed in the past,” police sources said, adding that even the director general of police had taken a serious note of the growing incidents of snatching and instructed the city police take steps to curb the menace.
Police commissioner Ishwar Singh admitted that de-regulated auto-rickshaws had posed a serious threat to women's safety. Hw, however, said that steps were being taken to regulate the autos.
“We have decided to make it mandatory for auto-rickshaws to register with the police and accordingly a hologram detailing name of the driver, his phone number and police helpline number, will be issued to every auto driver,” the commissioner said, adding that such a step would make it easy to locate particular auto involved in the crime.
Explaining other measures being adopted by police to control the crime against women, he said that an anti-stalking wing of women cops was being raised at the police control room. “The wing would take up women's complaints related to abusive SMSes, e-mails or phone calls and track down the senders with the help of cyber police station at Mohali,” Singh said.