The new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, BJP’s Yogi Adityanath has already made good his promise of setting up an ‘Anti-Romeo Squad’ to check eve-teasing and harassment of women, and the squad is already in action. However, this move has been met with a lot of apprehension as many say that instead of actually protecting women, it is a just another form of moral policing.
The director-general of police Javeed Ahmed has said that the idea is to reclaim public spaces and make them safe for women. Parks, major crossings, markets, malls and public places are to be made safe for women. The squad is not to take action against couples.
However, soon after the squad started functioning, it has started rounding up young couples. The Lucknow police picked up a young couple, detained the man, and gave the girl a lecture.
Also, many boys have been complaining that the police have been unnecessarily harassing them for simply hanging out with their friends outside colleges.
They have also been calling up the parents of these boys. A boy’s father, who was called, told The Times of India, “It is not the police’s job to decide where boys can stand and where they cannot. My son is 19, and is an adult. It makes no sense to call up his father to say that his son is loitering around.”
Of course, the debate has been raging on Twitter, with many expressing distrust of the Anti-Romeo Squad.
In response, Javeed Ahmed tweeted: “Safety of girls/ladies is the sole intent of the anti-Romeo squads. No moral policing.”
However, many aren’t convinced. Rana Ayyub, journalist and author tells India Today that most of the time the squad’s targets are patriarchal in nature and that they target lovers on the street. The squads are also implemented by a person who is so patriarchal that one wonders where it is going, she says.
Yogi Adityanath has been criticised for his patriarchal views on women. “If men acquire women-like qualities, they become gods but when women acquire men like qualities, they become demon like,” he has said.
“Women are not capable of being left free or independent,” is another statement that the Times of India has claimed Yogi Adityanath has made.