No holds barred in this fight for space

Arguments over parking slots are common in city, at times they lead to violence Ayush Kaushal, a law student in east Delhi, was parking his motorcycle outside the college main gate in March this year when two students objected, claiming it was their space. 

An argument broke out but others intervened. Only a couple of days later, Kaushal parked his two-wheeler at the same spot and the duo beat him black and blue. The 22-year-old succumbed to his injuries the same day.

Kaushal, unfortunately, was not the first person or the last to have died in a parking-related issue in Delhi.

 A month before his death, two brothers in outer Delhi’s Bawana were shot dead by a notorious criminal over a parking dispute. And just a week ago, 57-year-old Rajender Bhatia was thrashed to death by neighbours in central Delhi’s Patel Nagar. While Delhi Police maintains no official record of people killed over parking disputes, at least five people have been killed so far this year. 

A senior police officer estimates that 22-25 people have been killed over the last six years as a direct result of parking disputes. 

Two to three dozen violent clashes over parking have been reported on an average through these years.

“Police statistics deal with clashes as clashes, not considering whether they arose due to parking issues or anything else. We treat such cases accordingly,” explains SBS Tyagi, Additional Commissioner of Police (New Delhi).

Police stations across the city receive dozens of calls related to parking issues every month.

 But these complaints are more frequent in the city’s burgeoning middle and upper class gated localities than in the unauthorised colonies, despite the latter having poor parking facilities.

An officer in west Delhi’s Hari Nagar says the police station gets a dozen or two such calls every month about parking issues and consequent fights. 

Police stations in some posh colonies of south Delhi receive as many calls in just a week. Complaints over this issue are comparatively negligible in southwest Delhi’s Sagarpur, a rural area in comparison.

“Thousands of such calls are made every month across Delhi. Apart from the ones which result in murders or violent clashes, other calls are generally over deflated tyres, people parking outside someone else’s house or an escalated argument that hurts either or both the parties’ egos,” says an assistant commissioner of police in south Delhi.

Sarita Walia, a housewife in west Delhi's Janakpuri, has devised a method to keep vehicle owners away from the area right outside her house. 

“The first time someone parks their car in my parking space, I warn them that I would report it as an unclaimed vehicle to police. The second time the person parks there, I inform police,” says Walia.

Ankur Rattan, an IT professional living in Pitampura, deflates the tyres of any vehicle that is parked in the space he claims as his. One morning he found the tyres of his own car deflated. 

“When it happened the second time, I kept a secret watch at night and found that a man whose car's tyres I had deflated was behind it,” says Rattan.

It resulted in a brawl and police were involved. However, the matter was later sorted out amicably between the two parties.

Clashes over parking could involve anyone, be it your very next-door neighbour or the person handling parking spaces.

“The person who is awarded a contract for a parking space further sublets it to someone else. When there is a lot of subletting, the stakes are high and more people are employed. But their backgrounds are not verified which results in the entry of many violent elements, and subsequent crimes over parking in spaces allotted to them,” says Tyagi.

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