New Delhi: In a significant development in the wake of the horrific Hyderabad gang-rape and murder, the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) authorities on Wednesday announced that women passengers will henceforth be allowed to carry pepper spray with them for self-defence.

In a statement, HMR managing director NVS Reddy said that instructions have been issued to security personnel to allow women passengers to carry pepper spray with them.

“Queries have been raised regarding allowing female passengers to carry pepper spray in Hyderabad Metro trains for self-defence, as is in the case of Bengaluru’s Namma Metro. Instructions have been issued to security personnel to let in women carrying pepper spray.”

Thus far, carrying pepper spray was not allowed on grounds of fire safety.

In a related development in the case, a fast-track court was set up in the Telangana capital’s Mahabubnagar district to ensure speedy trial in the case. Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had on Sunday given orders to set up a fast-track court.

On November 27, a 26-year-old doctor was sexually assaulted and murdered by four men after her scooter broke down in Shamshabad, on the outskirts of the city, triggering nationwide outrage. The four accused are currently in judicial custody.

Many state governments, including Punjab, have come up with helpline numbers to ensure a safe return tohome of women who are stuck outside at odd hours.