Kannur: It was December 29, the date picked by the Kerala Social Justice Department to organise a night walk for women to observe Nirbhaya Day. The night when the police patrolling vehicles drove by and the whistles given for the women's safety rang out clear. But the same night was also witness to some harrowing experiences endured by a woman who ventured out alone.
A Malayala Manorama journalist, who ventured out alone on Nirbhaya Day, had to endure abusive moments. She takes us through the harrowing journey and what it means to the womenfolk of the God's own state.
When she walked out into the night…
This was not the narrow streets or the scary underground path. But barely 100 metres from the Kannur railway station, and one 1km away from the Kannur district headquarters and police headquarters.
I walked out of the railway station and went towards the bus stand. The timing coincided with the arrival of the Jan Shatabdi Express.
Four instances of trouble in 10 minutes
1. Invitation to board the car
As I was walking down, an Alto with two people came by.
Driver asked: What is the rate?
When I retorted what rate? What do you want? The car moved on.
Within two minutes, the same car returned. The occupant in the car asked - How much do you want?
I asked again 'What do you want?' and the car drove away.
2. Trouble-makers in autorickshaw
Autorickshaw driver: Where do you want to go?
* Old bus stand
Driver: Come, I will take you there
* No need, you go. I am waiting for someone.
Driver: No issues. We will take you or wait for you. Just say where to park the vehicle?
* Park it at the old bus stand
Man seated behind: Don't wait. Come, get inside?
Driver: We will wait
The autorickshaw was then parked nearby.
3. Within two minutes, another neatly-dressed youth arrived
Youth: There are several people. Decide fast
* What? What has to be decided?
Youth: Where to go? With whom to go?.
* I want to go to the old bus stand
Youth: Should I wait?
The youth returned after the solid reply.
4. Two elderly people
Where do you want to go?
* To a nearby location
Should we wait?
During this time, the police patrolling vehicle arrived and asked me where I had to go. I replied that I was not going anywhere and was out for a walk. They said ok and the car drove away.
Is this the Nirbhaya city?
Is this the Nirbhaya city, where anti-social elements roam the dark streets, and seek your company and force you to board autorickshaws? Are the authorities asking the women to walk through these city streets in the dead of the night?
One word for the authorities
These anti-social elements did not spring up overnight. They have been here for ages. If we allow them to continue like this, there is going to be no respite for women even if we observe 1,000 Nirbhaya days. The women cannot get out, fearing them.