METRES away from the crowded Inderlok Metro station is a secluded, poorly lit stretch of road where the Uber cabbie Shiv Kumar Yadav is suspected to have taken his victim early Saturday morning.
While the Najafgarh drain runs parallel on one side, a thickly-forested DDA park flanks the other. Except for a dhobi ghat, there is no trace of activity on the one-kilometre long road. Occasional cycle-rickshaws ferrying commuters from the nearby JJ Colony to the Metro station pass by, but for most parts, locals said they try avoid the route.
Escorted by her mother in a rickshaw, Sarita, 25, recalled the “nightmare” of taking the road two years ago while going for her coaching class in Shastri Nagar. “People avoid this route even during daytime, let alone nights. Daylight robberies are common and and people will not even come to know about the incident,” she said.
Meena, 26, agreed. She belongs to Nepal and lives in Bharat Nagar slums. “This road is so scary that even men do not go there. We heard about the recent rape case but it does not surprise at us all,” Meena said.
A group of 50 washermen, who work at the dhobi ghat every day till 6 pm, said the road becomes “very dark and quiet” once they leave. “After 10 pm, there is hardly any sign of life. The street-lights don’t work either,” a washerman, who did not wish to be named, told Newsline.
Rickshaw drivers Arun Tiwari and Ameep Yadav said no auto driver wants to come this way after 8 pm. “We don’t want to be mugged of our day’s earnings,” said Tiwari.
A senior officer from Sarai Rohilla police station, under whose jurisdiction the area falls, said they regularly put barriers on both ends of the lane. “We barricade both ends at 11 pm. However, commuters seeking a short-cut often open the ropes and push the barriers apart. That makes the road accessible even at night,” he said.
Though six PCR vans were patrolling the area on Friday night, the officer said they did not check this stretch. “There are 11 beats in all Sarai Rohilla Police station. The number of beat constables assigned to an area depends on its size and crime rate. This road falls under beat number 9, where we have posted five beat constables. However, once we barricade a stretch, there is no requirement to patrol it as we have already restricted movement on it. So, then we try to use our manpower elsewhere.”