Delhi by night - many cops but so few women (One month after Dec 16 gang-rape)

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) Many more policemen but far fewer women. That's Delhi by night where insecurity has tightened its grip in the month since the gang-rape of a 23-year-old on her way back home from a movie and where women are cutting back on work and leisure because they are scared of travelling by public transport.

Never known to be the safest for women, India's national capital has become even more perilous since the Dec 16 incident, say women, who feel a heightened sense of vulnerability.

A long night drive along some of the city's roads showed up many more policemen but hardly any women. Travelling by motorcycle and by DTC buses along some of south and west Delhi's roads, including busy areas like Malviya Nagar and Vasant Vihar, this IANS correspondent did not see any women standing at bus stands or travelling by buses.

At about 10.30 p.m., a few women that this correspondent met were buying a few essentials from markets. The streets and bus stops were well lit but that did little to alleviate the sense of insecurity.

All admitted they were scared of taking public transport at night - buses or auto-rickshaws - and had changed their work timings in order to return home by 9 p.m.

But police were aplenty on the roads, manning barricades at every five kilometers, while others whizzed by on motorcycles or in Police Control Room vans.

"Despite the increased police presence at night, after the gang-rape incident, I now end my duty hours by 8.30 p.m. Earlier, it used to end at 10.30 p.m.," Neena Sahani, a 30-year-old company secretary, told IANS near the Malviya Nagar Metro station.

Asked why there were no women to be seen on buses, Sahani said most women take DTC buses at night only to travel short distances, not more than five kilometres.

"The young woman would not have been gang-raped if DTC ran more buses at night on this route. She waited for over 30 minutes for a DTC bus, and when none came by, she and her friend were forced to travel by the private bus which had no passengers," Sahani added.

It was about 9.15 p.m. when the 23-year-old boarded a private bus along with her male friend after failing to get a DTC bus. She was gang-raped by five men and a juvenile and tortured. She died on Dec 29 in a Singapore hospital where she was taken for specialised treatment.

Like Sahani, Mamta Kaushik, a 37-year-old nurse in Safdarjung Hospital, said she has changed late evening shift hours and now leaves for home at 8.30 p.m. She would earlier end duty at 10.30 p.m. and take a DTC bus or auto to her home in west Delhi's Jahangirpuri.

"I would take an auto-rickshaw if I missed my DTC bus. Now I call up my family and ask them to pick me up from the hospital if I am late. I am scared of taking autos and cabs at night after the gang-rape," she said.

According to a report quoting an Assocham study, call centres and IT companies in Delhi and neighbouring areas registered a 40 percent decline in productivity in the fortnight after Dec 16 and one of every three women employees either avoided work after sunset or had quit their jobs.

Ironically, many men say they too avoid travelling at night.

Satyendra Yadav, a young man employed at a printing press, was waiting at the Munirka bus stop from where the woman and her friend took the private bus Dec 16 night - and which has now become a shrine of sorts with posters and slogans.

Yadav said he now avoids travelling by private buses.

"I get free by around 11 p.m. and I end up missing the last DTC bus. Since the rape incident, I only take auto-rickshaws to go home but I first check to see if the driver is drunk or not," Yadav told IANS.

With him was Ravinder Mukherjee, a young resident of Shakurbasti in west Delhi.

"Every day I board a bus for home from the same stop where the gang-rape victim was picked up from. I know how agonising it is to wait for a DTC bus as its frequency is pathetic. It is tempting to take a private bus but I am scared."

Fear lurks but for how long? Delhi's citizens would love an answer.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.k@ians.in)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

On Now: Delhi vs Kolkata

On Now: Delhi vs Kolkata

Delhi lose opener Vijay in pursuit of 167-run target. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Moores gets second stint as England coach

Moores gets second stint as England coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »