MG Rd boulevard no longer hangout for couples

MG Rd boulevard no longer hangout for couples
Another public space, the MG Road boulevard, is now being policed by overzealous guards who shoo away couples and prevent citizens from sitting.

A favourite haunt of pedestrians, the boulevard is now part of a multi-tier space along the Namma Metro line. It came up in place of a lovely British-era boulevard, which the Metro authorities had demolished to make way for train tracks and a station.

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) added to the stretch an art gallery, a couple of restaurants, a play area for children, and a performance space.

The elevated pathway also became a place for couples to sit, hold hands, and cosy up. Seniors began using it for their morning and evening constitutionals.

"Some elders began complaining about the public display of affection. We ignored them till recently, when a girl quarrelling with her boyfriend injured herself seriously by slitting her wrist," a BMRCL staffer told DH.

After the incident, two Home Guards were deployed to monitor people on the pathway, and rules never heard of before were implemented. A jeweller on MG Road said he used to take a stroll in the afternoons but stopped because of the new rules.

"It is a free space removed from the din of the road. But the guard began to shout the moment I sat down after my walk. I have to go to Cubbon Park to take a walk now," he said.

Younger people also said they were harassed by the moral policing.

Guard's story

In a casual chat, a guard said he was just following instructions.

"We don't allow anyone to sit here after 10 am. This place is restricted, and you can only walk across to the other side. You can't loiter here," he said.

A Metro staffer said the guard was exceeding his brief, but had put an end to some concerns.
"If he is removed, we wake up to alcohol bottles and cigarette stubs in the morning," he said.

Who made these rules?

BMRCL public relations officer U A Vasanth Rao said the boulevard was an open space with no restrictions.
"The idea to promote a culture of free and open space. We are not aware of these restrictions. Nobody can be shooed away from the place unless they are up to something illegal," he said.

City with locked parks

Anthropologist Usha Rao, whose research focuses on open spaces, underlined the need for Bengaluru to formulate a policy to promote open spaces.
The older MG Road boulevard was open and free compared to the new one, which less privileged people hesitate to enter, she said.
Open spaces have more to them than ornamental value, she told DH.
"For a crowded city, Bengaluru keeps its parks locked in the afternoons. The fear of misuse has led to the authorities preventing the use of such spaces. Misuse is an exception that needs monitoring. A blanket ban is unwarranted," she said.


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