Instances of chain snatching having been reported in Taramani, Thiruvanmiyur and Kotturpuram in the past one year

Last month, in broad daylight, at the Kotturpuram MRTS station, an unidentified man snatched the gold chain of a 24-year old woman after throwing chilli powder on her face.

The incident, which left the victim, Dipa Kumar, in a state of shock, underlined the lack of safety that most women who use the MRTS experience every day.

There are a total of 17 MRTS stations in the city and most of them have a lot of unused space which is either used as an open toilet by local residents or filled with garbage.

“The illumination on the first floor of the station and the road leading to it is bad. There are Tasmac shops near almost every MRTS station and people sleep in the stations after getting drunk. This makes travelling unsafe for women,” said S. Sumathy, a commuter at the Kotturpuram station.

S. Jalaja, an employee of Tidal Park, says she avoids stations such as Greenways road, Lighthouse and Taramani even during the day because they are deserted almost all the time, with no policemen in sight.

An officer of the RPF said, despite a shortage of manpower, the crime rate in MRTS stations had actually come down. In 2011, a total of nine cases of theft were reported. In 2012, however, this dropped to six and in 2013, till date, a total of three have been reported. “We have closed multiple entrances in half the stations as it is difficult to monitor all the entrances with limited staff.”

Police officers say instances of chain snatching have been recorded in Taramani, Thiruvanmiyur and Kotturpuram in the past one year.

A policeman on patrol duty at Taramani station said there were just ten policemen who took turns to monitor the Perungudi, Taramani and Velachery MRTS stations.

“Because there are three shifts in a day, many of us are forced to do two continuous shifts. Most times, we are the only people taking care of the entire station, or even two stations and there is no safety for us too. Recently, at the Taramani station, some miscreants indulged in stone pelting at 2 a.m. and I had to frantically call for help from the nearby station,” he said.

“If we are on one platform, there is not much we can do about incidents occurring on the other platform. Also, vacant, unused rooms in Kotturpuram, Taramani and Perungudi and Greenways Road are being used by miscreants who assemble in groups and play cards, drink alcohol and harass women,” he added.

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