In 2014, police were deployed in civvies during Holi festival to keep a watch on hooliganism. In 2015 and 2016, incidents of violence were limited because a number of people stayed within the confines of their residences. This year, the revelry could take the form of rivalry and aggression if not monitored.
We celebrated Women’s Day this week but women still remain the favourite target of hoodlums and gangsters during this festival. Filthy water and dubious materials under the garb of having ‘fun’ is often thrown at women on the streets. Hours before the festival, the state government and police need to get stricter in order to avoid disastrous consequences.
At the outset, troubling women strangers should be seen as molestation. There is no right granted by law to use Holi as an excuse to rub colour, fling sewage and other filthy stuff or touch strangers. By the same token, I would imagine ‘no’ means no and whether it is a man or woman, no one should be forced.
Throwing of missiles at passersby and especially those on motorcycles should also be an offense because it endangers life. A lot of people will be maimed and killed in the next two days while they ostensibly celebrate.
Many more will be hit with skin problems, eye infections because of the acid content of the colours thrown at them and it is sad indeed that we have no laws prohibiting the use of grease, oils, sludge, chemical effluence, dyes that are made from faeces being used. Add to that spurious alcohol that will be made available and the hit list is pretty healthy.
In Uttar Pradesh, the election results are going to add dimension to the Holi madness and the potential for violence and confrontation will rise above the normal.
This is the trouble with the otherwise fun festival that deteriorates into a free-for-all occasion where anger supersedes the merriment.
What is most terrible is police and the authorities are also casual and tolerant since taking complaints about people covered in colours is not easy. Yet, thousands of people, mainly women, stay within closed doors, afraid to come out in fear of being harassed.
In Delhi, the filling of water balloons with offensive stuff and poisonous and toxic liquids should be made into a cognisable act of lawlessness. Gangs bullying their way through the bravado should be monitored and arrested if alcohol begins to get the better of their judgment.
We all know these basic rules of engagement but every year, there is a casualty list and fearfulness infused in air.
Even the pretence that Holi is a friendly and loving festival designed to generate togetherness and the brotherhood of man as well as acknowledge the bounty bestowed upon us as spring is here, is pretty much lost when someone rubs muck on your face. By tomorrow, there should be police warnings in the vulnerable cities citing actions against those who cause mayhem or intimidate others.
Blocking an ambulance, frightening young children, trespassing into gated communities, attacking civilian guards and chowkidars, getting into fights are all on the list of ‘Don’ts.’
College campuses and schools, where there are female boarders, should be doubly guarded and cops must patrol these areas. The old trick of chanting 'Bura Na Mano, Holi Hai' is a load of nonsense and must be taken off the chessboard.
Above all, any woman complaining about being hassled should be armed with hotline numbers to the cops.
Just got a bad feeling about it this year, only hope I am wrong.
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Updated Date: Mar 10, 2017 18:43:30 IST