Sunita Sharma tries to wrap up her work early so she can be home before it gets dark. Same holds for Benu George, Kanika Sachdeva and Pinky. These are women – some students, some professionals – who on a daily basis are forced to walk through a seedy subway near the Moolchand Metro station, one of the only ways to get across to their homes in Andrews Ganj or Sadiq Nagar.
“I work in a recruitment firm in Lajpat Nagar,” said 24-year-old Sunita, who quickens her pace as she approaches the subway. A resident of Andrews Ganj, she has unfortunate tales to tell about the subway that dictates her work schedule.
“Once a man was following me and I did not even realise it. Thankfully, that day the security guard was sitting here and I asked him to intervene,” she said. “There have been other times when I have seen a group of boys behaving obscenely.”
With the presence of the security guard (who was missing when The Hindu visited the spot) being a random occurrence, Sunita has only complained to her father about her safety concerns. “He said the other option is to take the round-about way home which prolongs my travel time.”
The lane leading up to the subway is no walk in the park either. The dilapidated compound wall of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur College of Nursing lines one side and overgrown bushes and trees block the already dim light streaming in from a single street lamp.
“It is scary!” said a woman doctor who preferred not to be named. “No untoward incident has happened yet, but it is definitely scary walking through the subway.”
Inside the subway, rooms meant for commercial exploitation lay barren, a strong stench of urine envelopes the interiors and stagnant sewage water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The only saving grace is the entire subway is well-it.
“I have seen two or three boys staying in one of the rooms,” said Andrews Ganj resident Bhupendra Kainthola, who uses the subway daily. “Many times I have seen women wait at the entrance of the lane for other women to show up so they can proceed together towards the subway. The later it is, the fewer women you will find using the facility, many preferring to take the longer but safer route home”.
During the winter, with darkness descending earlier, some like Ms. Benu prefer to avoid the route completely. “Between November and January, I avoided this route preferring to take the Metro till Kailash Colony where my husband used to come pick me up,” said this resident of Samwal Nagar.
The subway, which is maintained by the Public Works Department of Delhi Government, was one of two which were approved in 2004 as part of the Rs. 30 crore, 450-metre-long Moolchand underpass project. One subway was planned on the Moolchand Hospital side and the other on the Andrews Ganj side.
Some women still prefer to be optimistic about their travel route. “I don’t know how the situation is after 8 but whether you are scared or not depends on how you look at it,” said Kanika.