Delhi journalist attacked: Unsafe Delhi parks wait for checks on drug addicts
The brutal attack on a freelance journalist,Aparna Kalra, inside a DDA park in northwest Delhi’s Ashok Vihar on Wednesday evening has again brought to the fore the question of safety at city’s public spaces.delhi Updated: Apr 07, 2017 09:47 IST
The brutal attack on a freelance journalist inside a DDA park in northwest Delhi’s Ashok Vihar on Wednesday evening has again brought to the fore the question of safety at city’s public spaces.
The absence of lights and security guards make many of such parks in the city a safe haven for criminals and drug addicts. The Picnic Hut, a DDA park where 45-year-old Aparna Kalra was assaulted, for example, is guarded by just two guards despite sprawling over 22 acres of land.
“The park is lit only at a few spots,” said a gardener employed there. With little check on the nature of visitors, the park is a favourite destination for drug addicts of the area, say residents of the neighbourhood.
“We always make sure that we leave the park before sundown. The drug addicts come and inhabit the park after that. Aparna also made sure she never stayed there after sundown,” said Kalra’s mother. The sprawling park has several entrances, but local residents alleged that the park or the road along its boundary wall hardly saw any police patrolling ever.
With no CCTV coverage either, no one kept a tab on people visiting and leaving the park — one of the prime reasons that is hampering the police probe in the assault.
The situation is similar in many other public parks of the city. In the notorious Japanese Park, in Rohini, which has hosted multiple political rallies, security guards say they get beaten up if they check the credentials of suspicious visitors or frisk them for arms.
On Valentine’s Day (February 14) this year, two young cousins were chased and murdered by a group of men in Japanese Park, even as young couples thronged the area throughout the day. Months earlier, a key witness in the murder of ex-MLA Bharat Singh, was gunned down outside the Japanese Park.
A senior officer said that the vast area that many such parks sprawled on, insufficient lighting and multiple entrances make it difficult for the handful of security guards to maintain checks and discipline inside. “We instruct the beat police to patrol these parks regularly, but they too are scared of going inside after sundown due to fear of being accused of misconduct,” said a police officer.