Picking up her bag of groceries, 22-year old Akanksha rushes to the bus stop — the same where two years ago the 23-year-old victim of December 16 Delhi gangrape case had boarded. It is 6.30 pm and dark. Lines of worry start to appear on her brow. She scans for “fellow” students. If she finds one, she may be able to share an auto to her hostel in JNU, three kilometres away.
“I buy essentials from Munirka market. We usually come in groups and walk back to JNU through the crowded areas, avoiding the secluded road. We always try to get back by 6 pm,” Akanksha told Newsline.
The 8-kilometer stretch from Munirka — where the 2012 gangrape victim was taken before being dumped at a spot near Mahipalpur — has two police posts. Till 7 pm on Sunday, both posts were locked. While a constable was spotted at the Munirka bus stand police post around 8 pm, the Vasant Kunj chowki in cantonment area was empty. Apart from a lone PCR car stationed at Mahipalpur, Newsline spotted no other patrolling.
The stretch has nine bus-stops. At each one, two to five female commuters were found waiting between 5-8 pm on Sunday.
Locals remained divided on issues relating to security. Some feel police patrol has “visibly increased” in the area. Jitendra Singh, who manages Shiv Bhojanalaya, right behind the bus stop, said there are more PCR vans making rounds each night. The Munirka police chowki, meters away from the bus stop, ensures no untoward incident happens, he added.
Ranjana, 26, who travels daily from her home in Palam to workplace in Najafgarh, changes buses at Mahipalpur. “I take the bus for home at 7.30 pm. It’s absolutely safe because a PCR is always close by.”
The “real” problem, another commuter said, is of service and not security. “We have to change three buses — from Chatarpur Metro station till Mahipalpur, then till Palam and after that, the one which takes us to our village. If direct transport services till localities on Delhi’s outskirts are increased, it will solve the security problem.”
Akanksha, however, believes that the onus of women’s safety still lies largely with the women. Suman, 23, who lives in Munirka and works in Gurgaon, seconds her. “Once winters set in, roads becomes unsafe. Last week, a drunk man tried to touch me. The public is insensitive too. If a woman is being molested, nobody helps.”
Bus driver Mahesh, who plies the route confirmed that fewer women board his bus after 9 pm.