Anti-Romeo squads took off in Uttar Pradesh as part of BJP’s poll menifesto. Each police station will have one anti-Romeo squad comprising of three-four members from the station.
Just two days after Yogi Adityanath took oath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, one of the BJP’s oft-repeated promises during its election campaign – formation of anti-Romeo squads “to protect the honour of women” – took off with a great deal of purposefulness in the state.
In Meerut on Tuesday, “anti-Romeo dals” were out on the streets in full force, making it among the first UP districts to form the teams that will be posted at educational institutions and public spaces “to prevent eve-teasing and ensure safety of girls”.
Soon, though, both boys and parents who found themselves at the receiving end of police reprimand and lecture were crying foul. They said the way the teams function blurs the line between crime control and moral policing.
Each police station in Meerut district, for instance, will have one anti-Romeo squad comprising of three-four members from the station. Police stations with higher population density may have more than one anti-Romeo squad with more than four members. In Lucknow, orders came from the IG’s office to constitute the squads in each of the 11 districts of the zone.
On the first day of deployment of the squads, boys hovering around schools, colleges, cigarette stalls, pan shops and even pastry shops were picked up for “questioning” and let go after police called their parents to inform them about the “activities” of the boys.
According to police sources, the modus operandi of the squads will be the same as that of the infamous ‘Operation Majnu’ in 2005, in which boys at crossings and markets were pulled up, and couples in gardens were thrashed by police. It was seen as an attempt at moral policing and widely criticised, and even led to the suspension of two police officers.