People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 07

February 17, 2013


Reclaim Public Transport,

Reclaim The Night, Reclaim The City




ON February 7 at 9.30 pm Shivaji Stadium bus terminus, very near the busy Connaught Place in New Delhi, was more active than other nights. The tea stalls were closing, as usually there were few commuters waiting for the last buses to depart. The street hawkers and vendors were still working and were happy and surprised to see people gathering. Some onlookers and regular commuters were curious about what was happening. Scores of men, women, young girls and boys had gathered in response to a call by Jana Natya Manch, Jan Sanskriti, Janvadi Lekhak Sangh, Bangla Manch and Act One to travel by the last bus on different routes originating from Shivaji Stadium. They sang songs in Malayalam and Hindi. A few youngsters strummed on the guitar. A couple of policemen who came enquiring were politely told all were waiting for the last bus. The regular commuters were happy that they had company. Many had complaints about the DTC – “The last bus leaves by ten. I have to rush from my work place.” “It is very difficult to leave early every day. I work in a hotel.” “DTC should have last buses at a later time.”  A young girl told a TV channel – “My mother said don’t go, but I had to come otherwise nothing will change.”


They were there to reclaim the city, reclaim the night, reclaim the public transport. They were there to assert the right of citizens – women and men to be out in the city late at night. They were wearing posters ‘ye shehar hamara hai’, ‘raat ke hamsafar’, ‘taking the last bus home’ etc.  They were there to mock the advice to women to stay at home and not to venture out at night.  They were there to pay tribute to the courageous girl who lost her life after the brutal attack in a moving private bus which she had to take as there are no public buses at night. They were there to salute the nameless and countless other women who travel late at night or venture out of homes for whatever reason. They were there for those who face daily assaults from the different manifestations of patriarchal mindset of society. They were there to stress upon the State that it is the State’s responsibility that women should be safe whether at home or outside, day or night, in western dress or in Indian dress. It is the State’s responsibility to ensure the constitutional rights and liberties of women.


They went in different directions on different routes. In the buses, they sang and read poetry. A regular commuter leaving the bus was grinning ear to ear, saying this was the most 'awesome' thing that had happened to him in a long time.