Very recently, Kerala police officials landed themselves onto the wrong side of social media after a couple streamed the moral policing episode live on Facebook. The couple Vishnu and Aarathy were sitting in a park when women constables decided to come up and charge them for ‘vulgar actions in public space’. Yes, we were as clueless as you. On the bright side though, Kerala Police has now apologized for the mistreatment the couple was subjected to.
Kerala Police Chief Loknath Behera wrote in his apology that he was ‘pained’ to learn about the incident and went on to make it clear that there is no law banning PDA in our country. He spoke like each one of us when he wrote that such policing comes from thought processes instilled in our culture and not from any legal issues. Makes sense because really what legal trouble could a couple sitting in a park with each other even pose? Heres’ the Facebook post with the apology.
Behera’s apology reads as follows:
“I am pained to learn the complaint (though I have not received), about some police personnel (Vanitha Police), who reportedly misbehaved with a couple in the premises of the Museum, Thiruvananthapuram yesterday (21.02.2017). This, I wish, had not happened. As the State Police Chief, I have ordered an enquiry to be conducted by Shri. Manoj Abraham IPS, IGP, Thiruvananthapuram Range. The law of the land is very clear. No one has the right to disturb or harass any couple anywhere more so in public places. In our country we impose self-restrain on Public Display of Affection (PDA) due to our culture and tradition, though there is no legal ban for PDA.
However, many people in the society do not support public display of affection in any public place and they normally call the police. The police cannot ignore such calls, therefore they reach the place and after reaching the place they must act according to law with all politeness. Another side is that, sometimes an under aged girl become a victim (without knowing or realizing various implications) of such act by some men, it is the duty of the police to ensure such under aged girls not be trapped and not becomes a victim of a crime.
Police is a law enforcement agency, it is not the moral keeper of the society. Therefore we in the police are to be conscious about or aware of our duties and responsibilities. The bottom line is that, we should interact with the people in the society, for whom we are working, to ensure their safety and security without infringing on their privacy and their constitutional rights.”
Vishnu began live-streaming the incident when male constables were called in and the couple asked what ‘vulgar activity’ they were performing. Of course the officials did not bother to answer in all probability because they had no answer, and went on to make the couple pay a penalty of Rs 200 for their ‘vulgar actions in public space’. Whatever that even means!
It’s heartening though to see the Chief come out and apologize publicly for the incident.