Anti-Romeo squads and moral policing are not joint at the hip. While protecting women from pesky, sexually repressed men is certainly needed (we guys have no idea what women endure when travelling, or simply walking down a street) it should not deteriorate into blackmail and harassment.
So if two adults, one male and one female, are walking together or sitting in a restaurant, enjoying each other's company, they shouldn't be a target for the cops. In fact, there is a very real fear that the cop, who is often equally repressed himself, and is often caught being crude and lewd, finally sees the order as a free pass to intimidate women, even as goon squads comprising righteously prudish nitwits descend upon all and sundry under the guise of saving our values. Saving of culture has actually become an excuse for mayhem.
In itself, I think Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has moved with alacrity on the subject of female harassment, and for once, I won't argue with him about the idea behind the move. Fact remains that our women walk a gauntlet every day, in trains and buses, in college campuses, even when they are in groups.
But we need to ask for some circumspection. Do the police know the difference between one who is harassing a woman and one who's doing nothing? Do they even want to know the difference, considering it could be a great opportunity to mint money off a youngster who has nobody to defend him? After all, he must have done something, so maar saale ko!
Once we start going down that route, petty and vengeful behaviour, deceit and chaos will kick in within days. The moment there is one casualty, all hell will break loose.
Perhaps what Adityanath needs to do is balance the scales a little and create a division where men can make a report if they are being harassed. The situation is currently such that just for standing at a corner store, you can now be summoned to the police station, penalised, and made an example of.
Also, by the same token, there should be video evidence before we start whipping up a frenzy over incidents more imagined than real. That there are goondas and hoodlums is a fact. But everybody in every locality of every city knows who these hoodlums are, so gathering intelligence and breaking up the gangs and cornering their leaders is more important than beating the bushes and whacking people at random.
On a lighter note though, I think Romeo's descendants might like to sue Adityanath. Romeo was a gallant figure, a lover in the greatest traditions of the bow and arrow, ready to give his life for his woman. Time to change it, and call them galli ka goonda? Or 'Marketplace Majnu', so we aren't accused of anglicising things. But in the new Uttar Pradesh, even that can be a crime. Like it is to eat mutton.
Duterte in Philippines, Trump in US — meet the latest entrant to your clampdown club.
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Updated Date: Mar 22, 2017 17:32:23 IST