Delhi Metro not safe for us any more, say women commutersApril 7th, 2009 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS
By Pupul Dutta
New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) Delhi Metro may have lessened commuting problems for residents of the national capital, but it has also spawned incidents of molestation and quarrels over seats in the crowded compartments, though the authorities say they have not received a single complaint.
“I have been the victim of eve-teasing twice,” said public relations professional Juhi Dutta, a resident of Tilak Nagar. “The harassment usually happens when one is trying to board,” Dutta told IANS.
According to her, the Rajiv Chowk station, in the heart of Delhi’s business district, is among the most crowded, and commuters find the security inadequate. “It was here that both incidents happened. You simply fend for yourself and move on,” Dutta said. This was also evident considering that victims seldom approach the police.
“We have not received any complaints of eve teasing on the Metro,” said Bhairon Singh, additional deputy commissioner of police, crime and railways. “We are ready to act even if a victim does not wish to be identified.”
Molestation is rampant on the Metro, insists Anuradha Jha, a mass communications student and resident of Vikaspuri. “It is for this reason that I avoid taking the Metro during peak hours.”
Delhi Metro Rail Corp (DMRC) that runs the service says it is faced with acute shortage of security personnel. “We do not have that much manpower to deploy guards all the time and so we do that during peak office hours only,” DMRC spokesman Anuj Dayal told IANS.
On an average, more than 850,000 people travel daily in the Delhi Metro, the bulk of them commuting between 8.30 and 11.30 in the morning and from 5.30 to 8 in the evening.
Dayal said DMRC was looking at the possibility of engaging security personnel in plain clothes to check sexual harassment. “People should know there are CCTV (closed circuit) cameras both inside the trains and on platforms.”
Rajiv Chowk is one of the main junctions on the Metro network. Yet, there are just a handful of guards stationed at the platforms, mainly to ensure that people fall in queue and avoid stampedes.
The grievances do not end here. Fist-fights and angry exchanges over seats are also quite frequent.
“Some seats are exclusively marked for women and the elderly. But, shockingly, few passengers offer to vacate the seats for us,” said Aditi Bhandari, a journalist who travels from the city’s university area in the north.
“People give you dirty looks and pass snide remarks if you ask for a seat. They say ‘this is not your DTC bus’.”
(Pupul Dutta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)