Monday, November 26, 2007

Danger after dark

Danger after dark
The city shuts down early, but that doesn’t mean the streets are safe at night

OUR nightlife shuts down at 11.30 pm. After that, if you go by recent crime reports, it’s murder, rape, robbery and eve-teasing. Once a city that was safe at all hours, Bangalore is no longer that, especially after dark.
“I don’t recognise the city anymore,” says fashion coordinator Prasad Bidapa. “It’s become highly unsafe, especially for women. I believe it’s the direct result of bad governance. People today have to think twice about going on a late-night drive, walking down a not-socrowded street or even hailing an auto at night.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on Brigade Road or the outskirts, danger is everywhere. “I was returning from a resort with a few friends when our car was attacked by some drunken miscreants. We had the A/C on, so luckily our windows were up. We stayed calm for a few minutes and then hit the pedal,” recalls Praveen Nayak, a techie.
Still, many Bangaloreans prefer to point out that we aren’t as badly off as those in other cities. “I’ve lived in Delhi all my life and I know that Bangalore is still very safe and civilised,” says Shobha Singh, a student.
The police too says there’s nothing to worry about. “I would love to live in a crimefree city, but we all know it’s not possible,” says Bipin Gopalkrishna, additional commissioner of police (law and order). “Bangalore is a major city, growing every day. On one hand there are ring roads, highways, border activities and new-found luxury; and on the other there’s poverty and desperation. So crime is bound to increase. But compared to other major cities, it’s still a safe place,” he asserts. Bipin also points out that the police is doing all that it can. “We have increased the patrolling along the IT Corridor. The checkposts are always on high alert,” he says.
And while the city’s nightlife continues to shut down a little after 11 pm, there’s also the view that a vibrant nightlife may, in fact, make those who are out at night feel safer. But Bipin says there will be no change in the nightlife timings. “Those who want places to stay open longer are those who want to drink more. And not all of them are responsible enough not to drink and drive. We can’t risk more drunken driving incidents,” he says. “Once things settle down, maybe we can think about lifting the curfew. As things stand, we can’t afford that,” he says.
STAY SAFE Avoid travelling alone at night. If you must, then wait for public transport. Do not hitch a ride in maxi cabs Note the number of the auto you take and text it to a guardian/friend. Every auto driver must have his licence blown up and pasted on the back of his seat. This is for the passengers’ safety Don’t carry too much cash or too many valuables Avoid going to remote areas or lonely/poorly-lit streets at night Be wary of strangers At the slightest sign of trouble, call for help


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