Don't go overboard, UP govt tells anti-Romeo squads
Acting on the Allahabad High Court's order asking anti-Romeo squads to follow guidelines, the Uttar Pradesh government on Friday directed the police to ensure that no inhumane measure was adopted in the name of ensuring security to women.
There should be no shaving of heads, blackening of faces or "murga pose" (sit-ups while holding ears), a senior official said here.
The guidelines have been issued after the intervention of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath amidst reports of harassment by anti-Romeo squads.
These special squads of UP Police were formed after the Yogi Aditynath government assumed office this month, fulfilling one of the poll promises of the BJP.
The Allahabad High Court had on Thursday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that guidelines were followed by anti-Romeo squads and action was taken as per the law.
The court's Lucknow bench of justices Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Sanjay Harkauli had given the order on a PIL that alleged that police were not following the guidelines during the drive, aimed at checking eveteasing, and was harassing couples.
The chief minister has also directed administrative and police officials in districts to regularly review the steps being taken for women security and inform senior officials on a regular basis, the official said.
Stressing that his government was firm on upholding the security and dignity of women, he said a state-wide drive has been launched to free public places of anti-social elements and check incidents of eve-teasing, indecent behaviour and passing of lewd comments at women and girls.
The UP Home department has issued fresh directives to identify those involved in misconduct at schools, colleges, bus stations, railway stations, malls and markets.
The government is also firm on checking unnecessary harassment of girls and boys merely in the name of curbing eve-teasing in public places like coffee shops, markets and parks.
The government has also made it clear that vigilantism of any sort in this regard will not be tolerated.
With TV channels reporting that couples were being harassed and humiliated by anti-Romeo squads at some places, Adityanath asked officials to ensure there was no "unnecessary harassment".
The Chief Minister asked the Principal Secretary (Home) to chalk out clear guidelines for anti-Romeo squads and ensure there is no unnecessary harassment of boys and girls moving around or sitting at any place, an official release said.
Anti-Romeo squads, a poll promise of the BJP that secured a remarkable victory in the Uttar Pradesh election, drew criticism from certain quarters with visuals of policemen targeting young boys and girls going viral on TV and on social media.
"The idea is to question, check group of boys or boys alone near colleges and other places and create fear among potential harassers in public places," said a police officer.
However, it was being dubbed as an attempt at moral policing and widely criticised in some quarters as the modus operandi was being compared with the infamous 'Operation Majnu' in 2005, in which boys at crossings and markets were pulled up, and couples in gardens were thrashed by police.
The officer sought to clarify that the only job (of the anti-Romeo squads) was to ensure safety of women and that eve-teasing does not take place.