‘Our address attracts shame’: To rid Dec 16 Delhi gang rape tag, locals want name changed

Residents of the RK Puram slum say being the colony of Dec 16 gang rape convicts is affecting their lives

delhi Updated: Dec 13, 2017 11:02 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times
Dec 16,Delhi gang rape,Nirbhaya
Now notorious as the colony of the convicts of December 16 gang rape, the residents of the slum in RK Puram Sector 16 want the authorities to change its name(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

For hundreds of residents of Ravidas Camp, their address has become a stigma which is affecting their daily lives and relationships. Now notorious as the colony of the convicts of December 16 gang rape, the residents of the slum in RK Puram Sector 16 want the authorities to change its name.

Ashish, a DU student and a local resident, said he received a a “long, disgusted stare” on a visit to a bank when the staff checked his address. His neighbour, Prince Kumar’s colleagues were shocked when they saw him alight the cab outside his neighbourhood. The girlfriend of another youth, who would not identify himself, broke up with him when she got to know his address. Most other youths of this slum avoid bringing their friends or girlfriends to their neighbourhood.

“The gang rape case is a part of this camp’s history now. Our neighbourhood is notorious across the world. But why should the innocent residents face the consequences of this notoriety? We have decided to demand a new name for the camp,” Bihari Lal, the camp’s Resident Welfare Association president told Hindustan Times.

Lal said that he, and other representatives of the camp, had approached the district administration earlier this year with a request for a name change, but they were unable to go far. “We were told that the process was too complicated. We have also raised the demand with local politicians, but they don’t want to take up this cause because no one wants to be associated with our slum, which has 600 voters,” says Lal.

A 23-year-old physiotherapist was raped and murdered by a group of five men and a juvenile on board a moving bus on December 16, 2012. The families of four of the five rapists still live in Ravidas Camp. One of the rapists, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail in March, 2013.

Unlike many other city slums, which are named after the Gandhi family, the Ravidas Camp stands out because of its distinct name. “We had proposed that the name be changed to Kalyan Samiti Camp. But we are ready for any other name,” said Anil Kumar, an elderly resident.

Dwellers, particularly the youth, said they have to face embarrassment in their daily lives, and even their “future is at stake” because of their address.

Prince Kumar had tried hard to conceal his address when his employers asked him about it around two months ago. The 22-year-old youth had only mentioned RK Puram Sector-3. He had avoided naming the exact location even to the office cab driver. But the moment he alighted the cab after his first day in office, his secret was out.

“You live in Ravidas Camp?” His “shocked” co-passengers and colleagues had asked in unison. The huge tomb of Bijri Khan, located right next to the Ravidas Camp, has become a milestone for the notorious slum. He tried to lie to them, but they soon found out.

Ashish said he was agitated when the bank staff asked him where he lived, despite reading the form. “I asked (the bank staff) if my face resembles with those of the rapists,” Ashish said.

Ashish fears he may lose job offers. “Our camp attracts more shame than GB Road (notorious for its brothels), and deservedly so. I will soon get my native village address updated on my Aadhar card,” said Ashish, reflecting the anguish of other youths in his locality.

In the immediate aftermath of the gang rape, the residents had contemplated relocating. Some people had been attacking their homes, some even visiting with firecrackers. Even now, when a police vehicle passes by this camp, it sounds the siren, Ram Phool, an elderly resident, said.

“For the first six months, we lived in fear. Those who landed decent jobs and could afford another house, left the camp. But most of us have decided to stay back and undo the damage. Changing the camp’s name is the first step in that direction,” AK Mishra, a painter, said.

First Published: Dec 13, 2017 10:16 IST