How Gurugram’s MG Road changed from a family hangout to notorious mall mile
Residents, villagers say police and administration did little as pub owners on the MG Road indulged in illegal activities to make a quick buck.gurgaon Updated: Jul 11, 2018 14:37 IST
Last Tuesday night, seven people, including two nightclub owners, were arrested from MG Road on charges of immoral trafficking. Four police teams raided two nightclubs after receiving a tip-off. The incident was not the first of its kind. Over the years, MG Road has earned notoriety for being “a place where sex rackets allegedly thrive”. Incidents of rape and sexual harassment, abductions and pub brawls are often reported from a 2.5-km stretch of the road which has several malls and eateries. The malls, according to police officials, are the favoured spots for those in the sex trade.
Old-timers call it a fallout of cultural mismatch. Other residents simply blame the police for doing little to check crime on this stretch.
“At one point, MG Road used to be the most happening place in the city. With so many recreational and commercial spaces, it was the city’s cultural and entertainment hub. However, over time, it has become an unruly place,” ACP (DLF) Anil Yadav says.
Yadav says the malls here came up on land which was once owned by villagers in the early 1990s. “The villagers have a stake in these malls. We often found locals involved in brawls that are reported from here,” he said.
The villagers, however, maintained they got sucked into the chaos, which the police and authorities saw growing but failed to contain.
“When the pubs and bars were established, the police and excise departments kept no tab on their late night operations. People from across Delhi-NCR and different parts of Haryana would visit these clubs. To remain in the competition, the club owners would indulge in illegal activities, including immoral trafficking. The name of the MG Road, including surrounding villages, has been tarnished because of this,” says Anil Yadav, a former sarpanch, Chakkarpur.
Residents also recall the good old days, but add that they are just memories now.
Ira Shukla, a content writer who lived near the MG Road for four months in 2015, recalls how she was once mistaken for a sex worker and approached by a drunk man at night.
“One day, while I was returning from work around 10:30pm, a drunk man came up to me at the MG Road Metro station and asked how much I would charge for an hour. I moved farther away from him to another place, which was relatively more crowded. No one came to help,” Shukla says.
Residents, who have been living in the vicinity of MG Road, however, say that the area used to be a paradise before it changed for the worse.
“I moved to Gurugram in the early nineties and MG Road was a heaven as compared to what it is now. We used to walk with no concerns even late at night. Today, forget about walking, one has to be careful while driving past this stretch,” says Gaurav Wahi, who has been living in DLF-2 for the past 20 years.
Vinod Tayal, who moved to MG Road area from Delhi almost a decade back, says, “During those days, one could feel the difference. Visiting MG Road used to be a pleasurable experience. It had wide roads and safe spaces. Today, I have to struggle to approach the road after work. I don’t feel safe while walking on the stretch with my family because of the number of incidents that are reported from here. Drunken brawls and eve teasing are common,” Tayal says.
He says that ‘pub menace’ and anti-social activities are not new, and have been prevalent in the area for many years now. However, moving out from the area isn’t an option. “As far as the pub menace is concerned, more patrolling by female officers could help make the situation better for women. One can spot sex workers on the road in the night, and the situation has not changed over the years. If the police want, they can take action but they don’t,” Tayal says.
The 2.5-km stretch falls under the jurisdiction of three police stations—Sector 29, DLF Phase 2 and DLF Phase 1.
While some say that can’t move out, the younger lot are increasingly shifting to other areas which they feel are relatively safer.
Siddhant Chawla, whose family has a house on MG Road, chose to move to another area because of the prevailing situation. He now lives in a gated condominium in Sushant Lok Phase-1. “I know of many people who are moving out because the area becomes very messy at night. The area is unsafe for both men and women. Even I am forced to think twice when I step out. There have been occasions when women approach you and try to get unnecessarily close,” Chawla says.
Chawla adds that the area used to be a good location in the city at one point. However, increased commercialisation and illegal activities in the malls has ruined it.
“I feel that the current situation is essentially a money making mechanism that has spiralled out of control. However, what’s surprising is that while the entire area has earned this notorious reputation, cops don’t seem to be concerned about the state of affairs. How is it that the situation has not changed over the years?” Chawla says.
Syed Azad Hasnain Zaidi, former spokesperson of Haryana police, and a long-time Gurugram resident, says, “The reason situation has gone bad from worse in Gurugram is that there is too much political interference in the functioning of the police. Majority of pub owners and other establishments have links with politicians, who ensure they cannot be taken to task. This drive by current commissioner was much needed.”
First Published: Jul 11, 2018 14:34 IST