Yes, this is coming from a woman. And no, I am not a “men’s rights activist”. I am very much a feminist and feminism is often the theme of my articles. The kind of state legitimised moral policing that is being carried out in Uttar Pradesh gives me ample opportunity to rant about how the anti-Romeo squad is just another attempt at drawing a lakshman rekha around women, defining her moral behaviour and spying on her out-of-home activities. But, I chose to talk about the men’s side of the story because feminism taught me to look at such events through a gender neutral prism. Also, I have a 25-year-old brother who works in Noida and often hangs out with his female friends and I am dead scared about his safety. I wish there was some squad protecting him from being accosted and roughed up by policemen.
In fact, all mothers and sisters of UP should be as worried about the safety of their sons and brothers. Yogiji’s anti-Romeo squad, apparently founded to make UP safe for women, has ended up unleashing the worst kind of khaki terrorism—not that the men in Khaki were some paragons of human rights or loved figures by the citizens. But now their moral policing has the legitimacy of the government. Every young boy “loitering on the streets” for “no reason” is being asked to show his ID proof. At the very foundation, this act of accosting and questioning any young boy (Romeo or not) is the assumption that he has a criminal motive. When did having a penis make anyone a criminal? Plus, belonging to a certain age-group—mind you, the creepy old uncle in his fifties can still claim ‘ye toh meri bachchi hai’ while touching you inappropriately—makes you most vulnerable to this khaki attack. If beating up young men for standing outside girl’s colleges was the panacea for all women’s problems, then we would need no law enforcing agency in our country.
Here’s a viral snippet from the Times of India quoting an anti-Romeo squad cop who reveals how they zero on ‘Romeos’ or eve teasers. His response is laugh-worthy but portends grave consequences for boys in the state.
Today in “development” pic.twitter.com/RofSyw89cQ
— Veena Venugopal (@veenavenugopal) March 24, 2017
Here’s another snippet going viral.
— Joy (@Joydas) March 23, 2017
Here’s a series of videos from Lucknow, Bulandshahr, Meerut and other places in UP I found on the Internet that shows only young men being accosted. Some of them were waiting outside a shop when their wives were buying clothes. Another boy who was held up and asked to show his ID was with his sister. His sister had to come to his rescue and tell the policeman, “We share the same surname, he is my brother. Here’s my Aadhar card”. In yet another incident, women police officers dressed in civil clothes are seen beating up guys.
Anti-romeo squad in UP intimidated and assaulted young boys and girls. This is new India? pic.twitter.com/j90snjt6V6
— Sharik Bakar (@SharikINC) March 22, 2017
Watch: Anti-Romeo squad in UP, is now a reality
— MODIfied (@spati2012) March 21, 2017
And here, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Raveena Tyagi, who is posted in Bareilly and is hailed as Mardani of UP, can be seen questioning and dispersing some boys for smoking in public. She is seen in civil clothes and backed by a team of uniformed men and women—all to crackdown on men who are smoking in public.
All the men rights activists of the world who are watching Pyar Ka Panchnama for the 100th time right now or complaining about being ‘friend-zoned’ or shaming a woman for being a “feminist”, this is your moment to actually do something worthwhile for your community. The debate on whether women should pay on dates or not can wait. You must survive the police to go for your next date. Your silence at this grave moment will prove that you are more threatened by a woman talking about equal rights than baton-wielding policemen out to humiliate boys just for taking a stroll in the park or sitting in a street-side shop. Clearly, you need to set your priorities right and choose your battles wisely.