At 8-30 p.m. this past Friday, the ladies’ compartment on a Qutab Minar-bound Delhi Metro train was infiltrated by roughly ten men -- young and old -- who were playing deaf to the announcement “Male passengers are requested not to travel in the first compartment which is reserved for ladies only. Doing so is a punishable offence”.
Several hung to the railings looking around the compartment at women, comprising office-goers, college students and mothers with children, as if it was just an extension of the general compartment. The women in the compartment nervously looked at each other, wondering if someone will speak up and tell the men to withdraw further back into that section of the train that is now commonly known as the “male compartments”.
As the train pulled into one of the stations on the Yellow Line (Jahangirpuri–HUDA City Centre), two women constables from the Central Industrial Security Force stepped into the compartment and started asking the men to move back. “ Arrey , there is one guy standing in the front of the train,” laughed one of the constables, as she asked him to join the rest on their way. “You should not travel in this compartment,” said the other constable to the men who just stared back vacantly. The women constables de-boarded the train without slapping fines on any of the men, and as the train started moving the men were back in the ladies’ compartment within minutes.
If the constables had challaned the male passengers, the CISF could have collected fines running into thousands of rupees with the Delhi Metro fixing a fine of Rs.250 each on offenders. The CISF has, however, earned more than Rs.8 lakh in fines since a “special drive” was launched on July 13 to prevent unlawful entry and activities of male passengers inside the ladies’ coach with eight to ten teams deployed on several lines on the Delhi Metro network.
“While we don’t have the provision of deploying permanent staff on the ladies’ coach, we do have special teams headed by a woman sub-inspector which keep a close watch,” said a CISF spokesperson, adding that the force does require more manpower. In September, 1,552 male passengers were fined; 896 in October, and 141 in the first four days of November with total fines running up to more than Rs.6 lakh.
“There are not very many cases,” said a Delhi Metro spokesperson, “Passengers travelling on the Delhi Metro are improving.” Earlier, following complaints from women passengers regarding entry and misbehaviour of male passengers inside the ladies’ coach, the DMRC set up a 24x7 Helpline (155370). “During the day we do not receive as many calls but some calls come in after 9 p.m. when the metro is fairly empty,” said the spokesperson.