The Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park (RGIP), with its state-of-the-art offices, can easily rub shoulders with any international business district. But for the approximately two-lakh people employed in the offices, the park has its darker shades. Other than the daily traffic snarls, employees — who often have to work at odd hours — also complain about how the area has, over the years, become a thriving hub of both major and minor crimes. The murder of Infosys employee Rasila Raju OP (23) last week, has once again highlighted the security concerns at IT Park. Rasila was allegedly killed by a security guard, while working alone on the ninth floor of a relatively deserted building, on a Sunday. According to the police, Bhaben Saikia — the accused — was incensed at the dressing down he had allegedly received from Rasila.
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While this murder might very well be one of the extreme cases of the spectrum, IT employees have been talking about many security threats that lurk close but are mostly unseen in their vicinity. Cases of road robberies, vehicle theft and chain snatching have often been reported from the area.
Thanks to the stretched working hours, many of the employees often have to return home at odd hours. The Bhumkar Chowk to Hinjewadi Chowk-stretch, many say, is particularly dangerous. Many cases of theft have been reported from the area.
“We have heard of cars being pelted with stones during a late night drop. No police officer was in sight,” said an employee of one if the IT Park offices.
Due to the nature of their job, late night drops have become more of a norm than exception for many software professionals. Incidents like these have been making the headlines for the past few days, but often die a natural death with little concrete effect, said another employee.
The stretch that connects Phase II to Phase III, also frequently reports incidents of bikers being looted late at night.
Infrastructure-wise, the IT Park can boast of spacious well-lit roads. But once the crowd leaves the offices, the deserted roads are taken over by unsocial elements, especially the Phase III section, said some employees.
The local police, along with the Hinjewadi Industries Association (HIA), talks of patrolling the area with three QRT vehicles, but employees said the vehicles become scarce after 11 pm.
The multi-layer parking places of the companies are also known to be danger spots where one can’t go alone after 7 pm, said some of the women employees.
Talking to The Indian Express a day after the murder of Rasila, Pune Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla had raised questions about the security measures at the Infosys campus in particular, and other offices at IT Park in general.
She had also said that the onus of the safety and security of employees is not just on the employer, the employees too, should take necessary precautions while working and traveling to and from work.
Amit Talathi, a software professional working in Hinjewadi, who has started a Facebook community — Hinjewadi IT Engineers — as a platform to finding solutions to such problems, said, “When we talk of safety, we also need to question the issues connected to it. For example, there is an acute shortage of public transport facilities. The PMPML buses often overflow during weekdays, because the frequency is very less.
“There are no buses during late night hours, forcing the people working here to take other modes of transport such as taxis and rickshaws. for these vehicles too, the waiting time is longer than it should be. Their charges are higher too. Aren’t these security concerns?”
“Traffic during the peak hours is a nightmare. The authorities are yet to come up with a solution for that. Heavy traffic also leads to accidents. These issues, in total, are strongly connected to the overall safety and well-being of IT professionals in this area and must be addressed,” he added.
A senior police officer, who had served in the Hinjewadi police station, said, “We must also consider the social fabric of the Hinjewadi IT Park. We have a large population of young educated professionals, who are staying away from their homes and have migrated from all over India.
Majority of them live alone. We also have a large population of migrant workers, who are employed at construction sites, or work as security guards and conservancy staff. This gives rise to a completely unique crime profile in the area.
There is no doubt that, currently, the strength of the local police station is inadequate to handle this large working population. Spread over four phases, the population is bound to expand even more in the future.
It is high time that all the stakeholders — the MIDC, the local police, civic bodies, Hinjewadi Industries Association and individual companies — come together and work a co-ordinated strategy to solve these problems before another tragedy strikes us.”