Gurgaon: 50 shades darker
The busy and very famous Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road (MG) also called the mall mile of Gurgaon has still not been able to change its image in the head of the citizens even after being one of the major concerns for the city police for six long years. With over a dozen malls and over 50 bars, discotheques and pubs, the busy MG Road is still striving hard to be marked as one of the safest roads in the Millennium city, considering that it is one of the most posh areas of the city.
For police as cops deployed at the stretch from Iffco Chowk to Bristol Hotel, the situation after midnight from 11 pm to 2 am is the major concern. This is when the stretch is ruled by young boys and girls (16-26 years) who engage in criminal activities despite the presence of police. According to the demarcation, all the din and bustle is confined to Sahara Mall, JMD Mall, Grand Mall and Vipul Agora building having five, three, two and one clubs each, representing the burgeoning nightlife wrapped in a veil of sleaze.
The chocking picture of malls from inside
Most of the clubs and bars are located at the top floor of the malls where the inside atmosphere is electric: the lights dim, the rooms clouded in cigarette smoke as party animals gyrate to loud music in drunken stupor with young men and women engaged in business in the idol corners.
Outside, a bunch of young women gather near the entrance of the bars asking the boys if they need entry inside the club. Some say they are there to help single men gain entry in a couples-only pub. But, all pubs here allow single men – or stags – entry for Rs 500 as cover charge. Still, these women are found standing outside, presumably to lure men. And the pub owners, for their part, continue to deny any connection with the women outside.
The flourishing flesh racket outside the malls
After stepping out of the malls, comes the area which is also called the ‘pick-up point’ for call-girls after midnight. “There’s nothing secret here,” says Ashok Kumar, the SHO of sector 29 who is on duty in the area. According to a youth who wished to remain anonymous, it is easy to get a woman to dance along and act as an escort in the pubs and discotheques for as little as Rs 500.
Police too say that the huge numbers of bars on MG road coupled with unruly youngsters are making life difficult. One of the major concerns of the cops on duty at this stretch is to keep a check that no girl is picked up forcefully. There is no denial that the business doesn’t take place on this road, but keeping a check that no girl is forced into anything, is our major motive as cops on this road”, said Ashok Kumar.
The crime sheet for MG Road
There is no one reason to be held accountable for the increasing crime in the area, but the trouble seems to be that of the sub-culture of the city nightlife, being unorganised and haphazard, which promises security to no one – especially to all the young women who come here for whatever reasons. They have the right to be safe.
Under Section 160 (Punishment for committing affray) of the Indian Penal Code. Gurgaon police had registered 20 cases in 2014 and 52 cases (almost triple) in 2015 specifically on MG road.
Under the Excise Act-68 (drunk and driving), Gurgaon traffic police had registered 65 cases in 2014 and 72 cases in 2015. After the increase in the drunk and driving cases, the police had formed seven new traffic teams and 23 new police teams in Gurgaon deployed to check the drunk and driving cases in the city. After the strict measures, there is a constant check post every single day on MG road (right in front of Sahara Mall) to keep a check on criminal activities. In 2016, the traffic police have registered 30 cases of drunk and driving on MG Road. Meanwhile, there were no rape cases in 2014 and 2015 specifically on MG Road, apart from one case of a 26-year-old who was allegedly gang raped by three men inside a moving car on Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road in February 2016.
What the cops have to say
According to police officials, many girls working in the pubs are involved in prostitution and sex trade and end up leaving with the customers after partying in the clubs. For the cops, it’s a daily routine to push these girls from collectively standing outside the clubs waiting for customers. Even though no pimps are involved on MG road, the girls themselves manage to attend at least two customers each night.
The problem arises when boys are picking and dropping these girls back at their ‘pick-up point’. After a girl was allegedly raped by two men in a moving car on MG road, the police started an initiative to maintain a note of the cab driver that picks up the girls, so that if any incident happens, they can be traced. But as the others, this initiative too lasted only for a week.
Cops also feel that since the excise department has given the permission and liquor licenses to the clubs and bars, it becomes impossible to control the crowd from committing crime after consuming alcohol.
“The excise department should ensure there are a limited number of bars in a mall. We have a tough time maintaining order,” said Balbir Singh, DCP (Crime). Since all the trouble that happens in this area is because of liquor vendors outside. Most people can’t afford pubs, so they drink outside and create nuisance.
Police told Millennium Post that 90 per cent of these girls are migrants from Ludhiana, Amritsar, Palwal, Hisar, Bengal and Mizoram and choose to do this because it’s an easy source of income. Majority of the girls are living single and on rent in Chakarpur village, Sarhaul, Nathupur village and Sikanderpur.
Police also says that in a majority of cases when a rape or molestation case is filed, it later turns out to be that the girl had wishfully gone with the boys in the first place, which makes it difficult for the cops to investigate the matter.
Ashok Kumar, the SHO of sector 29 police station, who is also the duty in-charge of the check post at MG road, feels that either the government should legalise it which will at least give us a format to control such activities. It is an organised crime, which makes it difficult for the judiciary to take actions on it.
No initiative is enough to hold MG road together
Gurgaon police have taken up a number of initiatives to keep MG road uptight and safer with security but it has failed each time. An initiative called ‘Operation Romeo’ undertaken by the Gurgaon police has started to crackdown trouble makers in the Millennium city. The drive used to book offenders under eve teasing and drinking in public places. An anti-sexual harassment squad was launched who were responsible to keep a check on people creating unnatural environment. The youth booked under this drive were taken to respective police stations and counselled in front of parents and warned not to repeat this. The drive which started on September 15 had booked 201 males and two females on MG road. However, there is no trace of the functioning of this drive in 2016.
The area is not only crowded with youth engaged in criminal activities, but is also home to at least 15,000 residents living in and around in complexes, apartments and individual houses on MG road. Locals have been raising their voices for strong police action against women working as sex workers and men who misbehave with passers-by. Residents living in Sahara Glace apartments face the intrusion of illegal activities around them the most. In 2013, the residents had locked these bars and forced the mall to shut shop after a series of clashes between the bouncers of these clubs and their customers. Moreover, mall authorities had disconnected these bars’ power and water supply several times, but each time their political clout had ensured that those services were restored.
“The criminals do not fear the police. They, in fact, violate the law in police presence. Festivals like New Year’s Eve, Christmas and lot more are ruined because of incidents on this stretch,” said Mansi Sharma, a DLF Phase II resident.
However, police on its part is trying its level best to keep these activities in control. According to the information received from ground reality, there are two PCR vans and two SHO mobile vans with eight police men and two lady constables posted at the Sahara Mall check post every night.