Lutyens’ Delhi may be the most exclusive area of the Capital, but it appears that monkeys are becoming its most high-profile residents and with VVIP status. They can indulge in biting, snatching without any fear of retribution.
Take the case of Akashwani Bhawan, the massive headquarters of All India Radio, located on the Sansad Marg, just a kilometre from the Indian parliament.
Some of AIR employees, especially those who leave the office after sunset, are living in constant fear.
“The monkeys are like the street gangsters here. Transport Bhawan, PTI building, Krishi Bhawan, Press Club of India, the whole area in and around the parliament, Mahadev Road, Akashwani Bhawan, Election Commission of India are all facing monkey menace on a daily basis. Their unfriendly nature has resulted in many monkey bites. Even other animals like dogs are bitten by them,” said an official of AIR to The Patriot.
“As All India Radio is having round-the-clock service, employees, especially the women employees, face this monkey menace in odd hours. The road leading to Patel Chowk in the night behind Niti Aayog is also a dangerous area in the night for pedestrians. As there is no provision to stop them, chase them away, monkeys are all over these campuses. Their population increases in a short span of time. At present there are many groups of monkeys and infighting in them is very common,” added the official whose close friend and a colleague had suffered a bite.
The presence of primates in urban areas often leads to problems such as monkey bites which are considered to be more dangerous than dog bites.
Langurs have long been proposed as a solution to the scourge of monkeys. Their presence is said to thwart monkeys, which is why several locations in the Capital have implemented this method. To keep monkeys at bay, residential communities, farms and hospitals have hired skilled langur-handlers.
AIR did that too and paid a langur-handler a monthly fee.
“We had hired langurs here. We used to pay the handler. But due to the interference of politician and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi, the system of having langurs had to be stopped as she wanted to protect the langurs from being forced into work,” added the official further.
Back in 2013, the Urban Development Ministry issued a notice to civic bodies directing them to stop using langurs as guards against monkeys. Maneka was behind this move as she had earlier protested, saying that putting langurs to work was illegal.
The trouble, locals like the AIR official say, is that there is no medical facility available nearby and those who have been bitten have to be taken to the nearby Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital for treatment.
The monkeys usually are not seen much during the daytime but once night approaches, they roam around unrestrained.
Patriot visited Central Secretariat, Mandi House, Akashwani Bhawan and the area around the parliament.
Locals in the know say that there are three monkey hotspots in the area. One is the Akshwani Bhawan-PTI Building area, the other is the Krishi Bhawan and another is behind the Red Cross building.
They also say that these primates come from the forest behind the Rashtrapati Bhawan. As they don’t get food, they loiter in these areas at night looking for food in hunger. The biggest complaint of some of the employees working in the area is that the administration doesn’t give them food in the forest they hail from.
Vinod Kumar, a 52-year-old street vendor at Central Secretariat metro station, said, “We are surrounded by monkeys all the time and are living in fear. Sometimes they come down from the trees to snatch food and bother our customers. We have been facing this issue for many years.
The government has offered no solution.”
A few steps ahead, was a pedestrian equally miffed.
“There are promises to make the city beautiful but the story is different on the ground. Delhi has become a zoo, our children are living in constant fear of animal menace. Not only monkeys, in recent times we have seen so many attacks by stray dogs on the children,” said Ajeet Sharma.
“This area is surrounded by monkeys. If they bite anyone of us, we have to take that person to RML hospital since we don’t have medical facilities here.”
Ashok Yadav, a migrant worker, told The Patriot, “The days are fine with streets occupied and everyone is busy with their work. But it is the night time when these monkeys go berserk, jumping from one gate to another, shouting as if there’s no one to control them. I myself get frightened while doing my work as there is always a fear of an attack by them lingering in my mind. Especially in Delhi, where there have been a number of evil stories about the monkeys.
He shares a story, “In my area (where he resides) people’s clothes were being stolen while they were sleeping. This went on for over three months. It was rumoured that a group of monkeys was indulging in the act. But it was never clarified who the thief was. But Delhi is famous for such instances/stories, and the monkey story was believable. That does scare you a bit.”
The Lutyens’ zone, by the way, isn’t the only place facing monkey menace. Monkeys abound in other places, including in parts of south Delhi, east Delhi as well as ITO.
Pankaj Gupta, 48, who runs a tea stall at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, said, “Our business has been bothered by this monkey menace. They steal our stuff, we are living in constant fear because of monkey menace. On many occasions, they snatch away stuff from our customers who come here to eat and drink. The monkeys chase them.”
Pankaj added further, “Earlier there were langurs in the city, who used to control monkeys but now they are not there.”
Rajeev Kumar Chaudhary, who is the President of the Residents Welfare Association (RWA) in Priya Enclave in east Delhi, said that residents in his area are already facing problems due to a landfill and lack of maintenance of park.
“But the biggest problem of them all is the monkey menace. The monkeys are roaming around freely in this area. They are roaming without fear while the residents are scared to step out. Most of the residents here in my area have abandoned their morning and evening walk and are mostly staying indoors.”
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