With half a coach being reserved in Metro trains for women for the first time yesterday, guards at the platforms had a busy day keeping unsuspecting male intruders at bay.
While women commuters welcomed the idea of a reserved space for them, some said that merely separating men from their space with the help of flimsy strips didn’t make them feel all too safe
The absence of proper boards indicating the ladies’ section led many men to enter it by mistake, forcing guards to show them the way out. The staff was also busy informing women passengers about the exclusive ‘half’ coach service, who welcomed the change with relief.
While the authorities had announced earlier this week that a section of the train would be set aside for female passengers, relief was tempered by the sobering realisation that only half of a coach had been reserved
for women. mid-day took a ride to see how passengers adjusted to this change, and noticed that while women commuters were extremely relieved and welcomed the decision, men appeared clueless and bewildered.
Male commuters who were caught travelling on the reserved half-coach claimed that inadequate signage had prevented them from knowing that the coach was partly reserved for women. Manish Mehta, a commuter, boarded the ladies’ coach with his wife out of sheer ignorance. By the time the guards approached him to assist him out, the doors had shut, forcing Mehta to continue his journey in the ladies section of the coach.
Mehta said, “I travel by Metro almost every day and don’t know of any such exclusive space reserved for women. We had to reach Ghatkopar on time and were in a hurry, so I walked into this coach. How would one know that it is reserved for women if there is no board mentioning the same?”
At Andheri station, a male commuter confidently walked into the ladies’ section, prompting all the passengers to break out in warning shouts, alerting him to step out of the coach. Thanks to the prompt response of the guard at the platform, he was evicted before the doors could shut. mid-day had reported on the slew of incidents last week, in which women were harassed while taking rides on the recently inaugurated Metro, prompting the need for a separate coach for them.
Harassment in the Metro
August 9: A college student who boarded a Versova-bound Metro from Marol found a man seated opposite to her continuously staring at her. He appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. As soon as Andheri station passed, he passed some comments at her. She shouted at him and asked him to stay within his limits. Two MSF jawans, who were also present in the train in plainclothes, caught him.
August 10: A woman was going up to the platform at Andheri Metro station via the escalator when a man allegedly touched her inappropriately. She screamed at the man and the MSF jawans present there immediately caught the accused and handed him over to the Andheri police.
August 11: A woman was harassed when she was travelling from Ghatkopar to D N Nagar on Monday. She then lodged a complaint at the DN Nagar police station. According to the complaint, the man kept staring at the woman and made lewd gestures.
An MMOPL spokesperson said, “The signages for demarcation of space for women commuters have been prominently displayed at all the platforms. In addition to that, announcements are being made at stations and inside the trains through public announcement systems.
Besides, Metro operations staff have been educating and directing the passengers about the new arrangement. However, a new system takes some time to settle. Going forward, we do not expect issues in implementing it. We shall continue to educate and guide commuters.”
It is good that they have reserved a part of this coach for women. However, there is an urgent need for a guard to be in the coach 24x7, and especially during peak hours, since only three strips are used to separate the two parts of the coach.
This should have been done from Day 1 itself, as there have been unpleasant incidents in general compartments. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when guards told me that a part of the last coach was reserved for us.
My office is in Andheri and I travel daily by Metro from Versova. I have been a victim of unpleasant incidents, and this comes as happy news to me, since I no longer have to fear before stepping into a Metro coach