Guwahati: Rajgarh Residents Turn Vigilantes, Form Commune to Tackle Roadside Hooliganism
Increasing hooliganism and other anti-social activities like liquor consumption, drug peddling and abuse, chain-snatching, and street fights have forced the residents of Rajgarh Bylane 1, 2, 3, and 4 to come together for nightly vigil duties and assist the police in checking what is turning out to be a socially intimidating scenario
Residents of Pub Sarania and Rajgarh in Guwahati have started taking out civic drives every night as a last resort for their safety. The drives are conducted against the increasing menace of wayward citizens, especially youngsters, drinking openly in cars and on the footpaths every evening, that often lead to untoward situations like street fights, eve-teasing etc.
“We are forced to take matters in our own hands against boys and girls who drink publicly and spoil the neighbourhood environment. The police is helping us in these activities,” Sumon Dutta, a resident of Rajgarh told to G Plus.
The exact area suffering from such disturbances are the bylanes 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Guwahati's Rajgarh, an area that connects Pub Sarania and the area in front of Sankardev Path.
Locals allege that the issue is not a new one but has been continuing for the past 6 to 7 years. But due to lack of proper resistance, the menace has been gradually growing and has reached such a stage extent that eve-teasing, molestation, and street fights are now a common occurrence.
The wine shops, bars, and eateries of the area have reportedly been major contributors to the issue. While the spirit shops turn a blind eye to the illegal activity of drinking right in front of their stores, many of the other shops also do not offer resistance in the hope of making a fast buck from these people.
Further, residents have pointed out that most of the crowd are not locals but come from different places of Guwahati. They are joined by boarders of the different hostels located in the area.
“We have some educational institutions in the area. We are in the heart of the city and well connected, so rented accommodation and hostels are a common and very profitable business here. I suppose the issue started when the boarders initially socialised in the area. ‘Adda’ is common here. We have been seeing groups of youngsters gather in the evenings. Even we used to do that. But gradually a few took the liberty of drinking in parked cars. Without no one to stop them, a few went a step further and took to drinking and smoking ‘ganja’ openly on the footpaths,” added a local.
Sumon Dutta said, “Our area does not have proper lighting. There are no proper streetlights and the main road has been under construction for years now. One part of the road has been closed for years now and there is a dead end. This gives ample space for the people to park their cars and socialize.”
While people have rented out their flats, there is no strict regulation to maintain proper discipline amongst the boarders. These carefree youngers choose to drink in the dark bylanes and such hooligans have been ever increasing.
“The presence of some syndicate has come to our notice. They not only sell alcohol but have also been peddling all kinds of drugs and ganja. Only last year the police caught a doctor residing in the area supplying drugs. Today there are more outsiders living in rented houses in the area than the original residents. A few landlords and owners have also given their property completely for rent as they reside elsewhere. Due to lack of guardianship, these outsiders choose to behave as per their wish without any concern for the neighbours,” said Projjwal Dutta.
“Sadly these hooligans not only include students but also matured senior people. It has also come to our notice that people associated with the entertainment industry as well as many with political affiliations also party here. Although the police has been raiding the area frequently and have even picked up a few, they easily get away by flaunting their connections,” he added.
Allegedly, a few influential people have even taken the opportunity to set up small eateries that help them to make some extra earnings and also provides them with a regular place to host these roadside drinkers’ gatherings.
“I have been doing a regular office job, but lost it during the lockdown. I set up a small roadside stall hoping to sell some nibbles to the evening crowd. Initially, it was doing good, then the drinkers started coming. It breaks my heart to see such young students being up to such a nuisance. One day I asked them to stop and even tried to chase them away, but they overturned my whole food cart. It’s not possible for me to manage such rebellious youngsters alone,” said a business owner to G Plus.
Reportedly, many shopkeepers and salesmen have an active hand in supporting such menance as a few were even found to provide safeguards to the drinkers during police raids.
Unable to tolerate the ever-increasing menance and for the safety of their own households and especially that of the women the people of Pub Sarania and Rajgarh have come together to conduct regular raids and chase away such hooligans.
“We understand that the lack of unity amongst the locals of the area and a sense of negligence towards civic responsibilities have encouraged outsiders to act with such impunity. But we all have formed a group now. It’s called the ‘Pub Sarania and Rajgarh Commune.’ We are 37 active members. Amongst us, we have subdivided ourselves into smaller groups to conduct regular drives,” said Projjwal Dutta.
The active members who have been regularly participating in these vigils are Suman Kalyan Dutta, Nabajyoti Sharma, Projjwal Dutta, Debabrata Goswami, Pratik Dhar, Siddhartha Gogoi, Debarishi Barbaruah, Dhruba Kumar Tamuli, Rajib Biswas, Bhaben Gogoi, Mrigen Das, Axim Das, Mayur J Sarma, Bapukon Kalita, Kaushik Kakoti, Nandan Deka, Utpal Barua, Anup Neog, Anup Das, Siddhartha Barua, Biswajeet Kalita, and Santanu Pathak.
“The crowd starts gathering from around 6 pm onwards and remain there late into the night till around 12-12:30 am. The regulars are smart enough to keep on changing their timings. So we also have to act smarter and conduct surprise drives. It’s a tedious job but our hard work is paying off. We have also written to the police and Chandmari Police station is providing us with all necessary support,” said Sumon Dutta.
“Additional Commissioner of Police (ACP), GK Boro, and Officer-in-charge of Chandmari PS, Pradip Haloi, have themselves come to help us in conducting raids. A few have also been picked up,” he added.
Pradip Haloi told G Plus, “The situation is currently under control although it has not been completely eradicated. We are doing our best. We were shocked to find drinkers even during the lockdown. But we have been ordered to do everything necessarary for the safety of the residents and the commuters. These rogues use such dirty slangs and many cases of chain snatching have also been reported.”
Constable Xarat Kalita and Chan Ali of Chandmari PS has been actively supporting the drives.
Apart from the above-mentioned areas, similar disturbances are reportedly on the rise on the road leading to Gandhi Mandap. The road up the hill is a great place for joggers and others doing exercises. But the lack of proper lighting even at such a prominent location has made it easier for drinkers to gather there. As such, women are compelled to avoid the area even when accompanied by male companions.
The Pub Sarania and Rajgarh Commune is reportedly in talks with the residents of the Gandhi Mandap locality to form a greater group and conduct sudden raids in the near future.
“We have realised that its important for Guwahatians to come together if we have to keep our city clean and disciplined. We are not discouraging regular social gatherings like adda here. But we ask people to maintain discipline and not engage in anti-social activities. It’s our city and we have to keep it safe,” said a member of the Commune.
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- Roadside Hooliganism
- anti-social activities
- drug peddling
- eve teasing