Woman, how safe do you feel in Kolkata?
Two months ago, Deepa Sarkar was returning home in northern Kolkata. He had parked his car near Noapara subway station. In the dark of the night, he was surprised to discover that his car had three flat tires. Fortunately, she was accompanied by her relatives who came to rescue her.nThe news of Hyderabad group rape and the murder has sent chills down the spine of Deepa. What if she drove alone that night? What would happen if some criminals conspired and punctured the tires? What if…
Deepa is not the only woman driver in the city who has pressed the panic button since the news of the horrible rape and murder of the 27-year-old government veterinarian in Hyderabad left the country shocked and furious. Nirbhaya of Hyderabad had left his scooter in a toll plaza. When he returned to the toll plaza at night, he discovered that his tire was punctured. Police suspect that the attackers deliberately punctured the scooter's tire, after which they gained their trust under the pretext of offering help. Then they took her to the adjacent service road, raped her and set her body on fire. His body was found under an underpass of an overpass.
Fear is the key
Director Anindita Sarbadhicari stays late and driving alone back home in the middle of the night has never been a problem for her. However, things have changed in the recent past. Paranoia has been installed. “I have been backpacking in Europe. Courage is something I never missed. But today, I admit that there is a sense of fear when I drive home late at night alone or with my five-year-old son, ”said Anindita.
Last year, businesswoman Debapriya Ghosh Goswami was trapped in the Bypass when her car engine began to create problems. It was around midnight and there was no one around to help her. “Although I had desperately asked for help, nobody bothered to rescue me. After the Hyderabad incident, I am very skeptical. Even if I need help, I will no longer trust strangers, ”said Debapriya. In an emergency, she would prefer to wait for her husband to turn to a mechanic instead of asking strangers to solve their problems.
Check the tires before driving
Kashika Arora, a businesswoman, says it is important to check everything before removing a car from the garage. “As people are on the streets of Kolkata, they cannot tolerate women driving a car. After the horrible incident in Hyderabad, I check my tires. I'd rather not leave after midnight. ”
On Sunday night, Anindita performed several checks on the tires of her car before starting the engine. “I've never done that before. Now, these routine controls are mandatory for my safety, ”he explained.
No altercation please
Indrani Banerjee, an IT professional working in Salt Lake Sector V, drives approximately 40 km a day. Last winter, he was returning from work around 1 a.m., when a car came from nowhere in an empty overpass and crashed into his. As a reflex action, I stopped mine and wanted to leave to verify the damage, Indrani said. He wanted to give the driver an idea, but he stopped when he saw four other men laughing at her. “They looked drunk and were giving lascivious comments. It was then that I realized that they should have crashed their car against mine on purpose, he said. That night, Indrani decided not to leave without entering any altercation.
“After the Hyderabad incident, I will do exactly the same. I will not risk stopping my car to enter an altercation with someone, even when I know that I am not to blame. My safety is more important than teaching someone a lesson, ”said Indrani.
Being self-sufficient is essential
Just before last Christmas, the RR professional. H H. Romilla Ghosh Chakraborty pricked a tire in the middle of the night while returning home from a party. “This incident happened not far from home. The area was known to me. I waited for a passer-by or any taxi driver to help me change the tire. But there was no one around. So, I had to find an application that sent people to help change tires or tow the car. I had to wait alone in my car for an hour until the man arrived
Since then, this Behala resident decided not to depend on strangers. “I have learned to change tires on my own. You never know where you might end up in a problem. I urge all women drivers to learn how to change their own tires and not depend on anyone, he added.
What about the hired drivers?
Women drivers who are enrolled in centers or drive app taxis are now very worried. Reba Koyal Mondal, who has been driving in the city for eight months, says he no longer wants to trust anyone. “In the current situation, we are very scared. If I have to drive at night, it shouldn't be after 10.30 p.m. That is valid for the driving center where I signed up. But, I really can't choose the customer profile when I'm driving an application taxi. Who knows what someone has in mind? That's why I don't drive app taxis at night, Reba said.
Chameli Das, who coordinates the operations and placement of a consulting wing for female drivers, said enough precautions are taken to ensure the safety of drivers. “Our cars have GPS and have trackers that run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Panic buttons are installed and local thanas are also informed about the movement of cars. Any deviation is detected immediately. Our girls also receive self-defense training, ”added Chameli.
No help from strangers
Despite all the claims of supporting women, most women who drive in the city point to the deeply rooted misogyny that has an impact when they go behind the wheel. Shivika Abbhimanyyu Aggarwal, a professor by profession, is equally cautious now. “If I ever have a flat tire at night, I'd rather leave it there and return home or to a relative's place in another vehicle. My life is more precious than my car. Seeking help from strangers is out of the question, ”Shivika said.
Anindita also agrees. “Perhaps, there are still useful strangers in the city. But, if I have a problem with the Bypass, I will never seek help from unknown people. It is better to trust known people than strangers. The increase in the number of patrols is essential to make us feel safe, ”he said.
'The safety of women in the city is of Maximum priority for the Kolkata police. Police stations have been instructed to increase the night patrol and respond immediately to any distress call from any woman. The Lalbazar control room that monitors the 100 dial has also been reported accordingly. The winning women's team has already been sensitized. I would like to reiterate that in case of anguish or in case a woman feels insecure, please dial 100. We will respond to your need. '
— Anuj Sharma Commissioner Kolkata Police
Kolkata Police Helpline Numbers for Women
1091 (no charge)
(This number was introduced by Kolkata police on International Women's Day to
Provide immediate help in incidents of teasing, sexual abuse, etc.)
24-hour toll-free number in the Kolkata Police control room: