Wanna get our awesome news?

Subscribe to our newsletter!


Actually we won’t spam you and keep your personal data secure

As the voice of the Indian restaurant industry, we represent the interests of 500000+ restaurants & an industry valued @ USD 4 billion. Whether a chain or independent restaurant, the NRAI is here to help every step of the way. Join us!


Deer Park rape case: Behind the music and fancy pubs, a veil of unease in Hauz Khas Village


At 9.30 PM on a typical weekday, from the top-floor balcony of an eatery, the Village resembles a hip zone frequented by the young and restless. A tuneless medley of Bollywood tracks and electronic dance music mixes with the voices of ushers handing out flyers of “free drinks for girls” outside the 40-plus bars and restaurants on the street. Sometimes, screams laden with expletives add to the soundtrack. Every day, once the sun sets, all roads lead to the Hauz Khas Village (HKV) — the nightlife hub of the capital. But all isn’t well there. Minor fires every few months, incidents of eve-teasing and brawls get enough mileage on social media. But the rape of a 24-year-old woman in Deer Park by a 19-year-old man she met while looking for transport on February 21 has ensured that the spotlight never leaves HKV.

“I’ve been here for seven years. Back then, it used to be very safe. Now, the Village suffers from a major law and order situation. We’re forced to take safety measures such as walking together at night or waiting for a male colleague to walk us till the parking lot,” says Koval Bhatia, founder of Little Anarky Films, a production house in HKV.

For a place that aims to become a world-class tourist destination, problems are plenty. Parking attendant Sumit (33, name changed), said the area lacks the most basic facilities.

“The parking lot has a capacity for 800 cars but just two streetlights. Every second day, we witness fights between groups of drunk men, as well as women being troubled, stared at and followed. Police help sometimes but they are very few. Extra lighting will help; andhere mein koi nahi darta,” he says.

Komal Pandey (23), who works at fashion and lifestyle blog PopXo, remembers a particularly harrowing experience she and a female colleague faced. They were sitting in a car in the parking lot late one night, when a group of drunk men began to dance in front of the vehicle and refused to let them leave for 30 minutes. “It was scary, and we’ve established that it’s not safe for women. We only come here because of our office. There is a need for more policing and female cops in the area,” she says.

Till 2015, officer Kamlesh Meena, who was posted in the Village, had created an equal amount of awe and fear in the minds of those in HKV and gained mini-celebrity hood for her dabbang presence at night.
“I tried giving as much time as I could, and made personal bonds with women… I was transferred but even now I get calls from some girls asking me to come back,” she says.

However, Police Inspector Arun Dev Nehra says, “There is enough police deployment in HKV, which increases over the weekend, and on special days. On New Year’s eve, HKV had maximum police deployment in the district.”

Three years ago, “ladies night” once a week picked up in HKV as venues such as Fork You, Cafe Out of the Box (OTB), Raasta and Moonshine heralded the free-drinks trend. Now, every day, a venue or more offer this deal.

Vinod Kumar Jain, who runs a paan shop opposite OTB, says, “The pub lobby in HKV in the last five years has become very strong, I can see it best because I have been on the street selling paan for 14 years here. New venues come but they can’t sustain in this competition, so they resort to cheap tactics such as ladies’ night or free drinks.
That has changed the crowd that comes to HKV majorly in the last two years, making it an unsafe place,” he says.

The safety issue was picked up by the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) in 2015, when letters to area MLA Somnath Bharti and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pointed out the need to spruce up security in HKV, apart from other infrastructural help.

“We got an urban planner on board and sent an agenda to the government in June 2015, suggesting better parking facilities, a pedestrian-friendly lane, more lighting, and an emergency lane among others. There is no resistance from the government but there is no will either. We are doing whatever we can on our part,” says NRAI president Riyaaz Amlani, also the owner of popular bar and co-working space, Social.

A few months ago, members of the HKV Traders’ Association got together to hire bouncers — not for the venues but to man the street near the parking lot. There is also a WhatsApp group called SOS HKV, with 70 people — venue owners, managers, association heads and police. “When any member spots a problem in HKV, they alert the group so action can be taken,” adds Amlani.

Source: The Indian Express

Recommended for you