Illegal activities keep visitors away

Unsafe Parks

Illegal activities keep  visitors away

For the young and old alike, parks are the best place to exercise, hang out or merely go and introspect about life.

But even in broad daylight, illegal felling of trees, vandalism, consumption of drugs and alcohol, theft, eve-teasing and other notorious activities can be seen in many of the Garden City’s parks, including the popular
Cubbon Park and Lalbagh Botanical Garden.

Shantanu Verma, a professional, feels that parks need better security as they are community spaces.

   “Therefore, one must adhere to certain rules of
conduct. For instance, which part of ‘No Smoking’ do certain people not understand? The lack of security makes beautiful parks dangerous, not only for women but
men too. Most of our parks are largely unmanned spaces, so there’s high scope for illegal activities. I personally don’t venture into parks after sunset as there are many risks involved,” he says.

Women too prefer avoid going alone to bigger parks, especially post 6 pm.
   “I’d much rather take extra rounds in the children’s park in my complex. I used to jog in Jayanagar Park every evening but had to stop because of men who would
pass lewd comments. It’s a shame that we can’t enjoy such spaces because of a few
anti-social elements,” says Chetana, a resident of
JP Nagar.

S Umesh, president of Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association, says that there are only eight security guards patrolling the 192 acres of Cubbon Park. “Previously, we had 30 home guards as well but they were removed in early January after being involved in an untoward incident at Lalbagh. The current guards aren’t enough in number and sometimes sit and drink themselves.

They even take bribes from food vendors to allow them inside the park, after which nobody clears the garbage they leave behind. Unauthorised parking, drug use, alcohol consumption and prostitution are other illegal activities that happen frequently, especially after dark. Many of our sandalwood and bamboo trees are also being cut without any legal tender,” he informs.

Umesh adds that Vivekananda Park, adjacent to Ulsoor Lake, is also suffering from hooliganism and illegal activities.

   “With my own eyes, I have seen the security guard pocketing Rs 100 from anyone who wishes to stay there till late. Even cops take the money and look the other way,” he notes. Earlier in the year, Border Security Force (BSF) personnel allegedly assaulted the visitors, security guards and police constables at Lalbagh, causing public nuisance.

While this incident made big news, regular incidents of sandalwood theft, illegal hawkers, alcohol and drug consumption and vandalism go unnoticed everyday. Puravankara Park on Rest House Road, better known as Ganja Park, used to be one of Bangalore’s smaller parks associated with drugs and drinking. As the name suggests, it was once a popular haunt for students to smoke marijuana without any restriction.

With the frequent patrolling on the road now, however, that is no longer the case.
A thing commonly associated with parks, though not illegal, is Public Display of Affection (PDA). But Aniket Vaidyadhar, who frequents Cubbon Park and Lalbagh, says that there’s nothing wrong with it.

   “I’ve been to Mumbai parks and that’s where PDA is excessive, not here. Authorities make it feel like a game of stealth where you can’t get caught. But there’s nothing wrong with expressing one’s feelings, irrespective of the setting. Nobody, especially a cop, should have any right pertaining to this,” he says.

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