“First 8 seats are reserved for ladies” The sticker bearing this message on the red background, can be seen almost in all the mini buses which are running on various routes in Srinagar city. And we can see how that message is ignored most of the times. We can say that that sticker is just like a common advertisement we find in those buses. One can see that those 8 seats which are reserved for the ladies remain occupied most of the times and the female commuters are forced to travel in an awkward position. The female commuters while travelling have to face difficulties of various forms and a person who on daily basis travels in such buses can easily understand what forms of difficulties I am talking about.
We do have our female college and school students, employees and others travelling in buses and the incidents of eve teasing in such buses have increased drastically. Now, the female folk are not even feeling secure while travelling in these mini buses. I have seen many, college and school female students preferring to reach their respective institution either by asking their parents to drop them there or by travelling that distance by foot, they usually avoid to board a bus. And those who are unable to do so are bound to board the bus and face the consequences.
Recently when I was travelling on one such route in a mini bus, to which we usually refer to as ‘TATA GAED’ , what I saw was that three guys in their mid twenties cornered a lady of almost same age group and in no time the body language of those guys went from indecency to worst, and unfortunately no one really noticed the scene. I caught them, but I couldn’t protest, keeping in view the state of my body, I was not in the state of resisting, they were all giants and they could have thrown me out of that bus in no time. I will not tell you that I just got up; slapped them and dragged them out of the bus, no, that will be an exaggeration on my part. I just looked at them with disgust and thought that it might work. Luckily that lady somehow managed to grab a nearby vacant seat and got rid of those beasts on wheels.
Many such incidents have happened and are happening and this issue is not getting any attention at all. There is an urgency to address this issue which is alarming in nature. Today it was the sister or wife of Mr. ‘A’ who faced this, tomorrow it can be your sister, your wife or mine, for that matter.
As discussed, officially there are 8 seats which are reserved for ladies in every minibus running on the city roads. Now let us ask a simple question to ourselves that is, are these 8 seats sufficient to be reserved? Can’t we have more than eight ladies travelling in the bus? What about them? Let us say that those reserved seats have been occupied by ladies, what about those who standing right there in jumble? Can’t they fall into the hands of such human beasts which have lost the ability to distinguish between the things around them?
The only solution which at this point of time is coming into mind is that of running a separate bus service for the ladies on all the major city routes initially and with the advent of time this chain of separate bus service for ladies can be extended to the various other routes of the valley.
If normally there are 10 buses playing on a particular route, we can have additional 5 buses meant for the ladies only. This concept if implemented can ease up the travel for ladies who travel on daily basis on the major routes of Srinagar city.
If seen carefully, somewhere deep down into the hearts of people they want something new which will ease up their routinely travel. This step can be a new and innovative step in this direction. For its implementation we should not wait for the government to analyze the issue and form a committee to study the issue, then after a decade they will come up with a report and again after a year they will forward some typical recommendation. No, in this way it will take a lifetime to address this alarming issue. We have the solution and its implementation should not take much time. For this, the local transport companies, which are right now in the business, should take up the job and offer such type of bus service in the city in its initial stage, which will be exclusive for ladies.
I am hopeful that the response to this exclusive service will be huge and these transport companies (if they will take up the job) will have no hesitation in expanding this ‘Female Exclusive Bus Service’ to other parts of the valley.