HYDERABAD: With the mercury rising, people are increasingly taking shelter in the city parks these days, either to take an afternoon nap or spend a pleasant evening with children. Taking advantage of this, a few goons are resorting to extortions in the name of parking fees and are going even to the extent of thrashing gullible visitors. For couples, the harassment has become even more acute particularly in places such as the Sanjeevaiah Park.
“We take all measures possible but due to fewer number of security guards, these incidents might be happening at some parks. But we will take appropriate action if these incidents are brought to our notice,” said Buddha Purnima Authority OSD MJ Akbar. He suggested that victims should immediately approach either the police or at least the security guards when faced with such a situation.
Afraid of the rowdies on the prowl, some women are avoiding parks altogether. “I would rather go to a movie or a restaurant and not to a park on a sunny day. Parks are generally shady places even during the day,” opines Janaki, a mother of two kids. Echoing her views, Rani, a housewife, recalls, “When I went to a city park with my husband, the kind of stares I got made be uncomfortable. Random people almost made advances towards me.”
But if you think women alone are at the receiving end, you are mistaken. A college student, who wished not to be named, says, “I have had some experiences and I have decided I do not want to end up at a park or garden alone. There have been occasions when some men approached me for some company!” He fumes that even men are not safe in Hyderabad.
Security guards, who for the most part sit in their own corner, however, claim the parks are not as bad. “Whenever we notice people indulging in activities like drinking and smoking weed in the open, we shoo them away. But they keep coming again and again. We have also restricted people from sleeping on the lawn during daytime,” said a guard at the Public Gardens. According to him, if free entry into the garden was the cause for all trouble, other major parks in the city which do not offer a free entry too face issues. His colleague at the Sanjeevaiah Park too defends his comrades, asserting that nothing “absurd happens here.” The fact, though, is city parks are not as safe and if you have to go, go in a group.