Night carnival for women in Delhi’s Karol Bagh to change image from rapre city to safe city

The first-of-its-kind festival in Delhi will be hosted at the pedestrianised Ajmal Khan Road and held between 7 pm and 11 pm on Thursday and Friday.

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) on Wednesday announced a two-day street carnival for women in Karol Bagh at night, urging them to “fearlessly step out” and reclaim the streets with music and celebrations. The first-of-its-kind festival in Delhi will be hosted at the pedestrianised Ajmal Khan Road and held between 7 pm and 11 pm on Thursday and Friday. The NDMC has partnered with UN Women, Delhi Police, Raahgiri Foundation, Jagori and other civil society bodies to drive home a strong message about women safety and celebrating the streets. “The recent incidents of violence against women depict a certain mindset of some people in the society, and it is this mindset that the festival seeks to challenge. We want women to feel safe on streets, and if enough women come out, they will not feel afraid. “We are asking them to come out and reclaim the streets and celebrate the open space,” NDMC Commissioner Varsha Joshi told reporters here.

The festival will include activities such as performances by local pop groups and stand up comedians, Zumba workout sessions and movie screenings. “While plans had been going on for the past several months to host a festival at the nearly 1.5 km-long Ajmal Khan Road, which we had pedestrianised earlier this year, it all sort of came together recently, with convergence of interests from many other agencies. We also realised UN Women is marking a fortnight to promote gender equality. So, the stars aligned,” Joshi said. So, while women safety is part of the message to be sent out to people, the event was not triggered by recent incidents of violence against women, she said. Over two months ago, the NDMC had pedestrianised street running from Pusa Road to D B Gupta Marg, seeking to decongest the busy area.

About 600 metres of this stretch of the road will be utilised for the festival. “There will be two stages, one for artists of Sahitya Kala Parishad, and other for local artists. Shopkeepers have informally said that women would get discount on purchases made during the festival. We hope women will come out and enjoy open streets with ease and without any fear,” Karol Bagh Zone’s Deputy Commissioner Akriti Sagar said. “Women on regular days will want to step out if they know there are more women around them, and we want them to lose that sense of unease they may be feeling after reading about violence against women,” she said.

The entry to the festival is free and open to women and also men accompanying female family members or friends, the senior officer said. “There will be selfie points, and game zones for kids, we are going to decorate and illuminate the stretch to give it a feel of a carnival. Also, metro station is located close by from the road,” Sagar said. Karol Bagh is in central Delhi and houses one of the most well-known and busy market of the city, which is thronged by a large number of visitors every day.

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