Just three days after Yogi Adityanath took over as the Uttar Pradesh CM, the BJP’s election manifesto promise to set up an anti-Romeo squad to nail eve teasers and protect college going girls has created a new controversy. While there is fear that under the guise of the anti-Romeo squad, the party’s fringe elements will set themselves loose on the streets of UP, the police insist that there will be no moral policing.
Here are 5 things you should know about the latest anti-Romeo squad.
1) What is an anti-Romeo squad?
The anti-Romeo squad is a policy measure taken by the newly elected Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh towards women’s safety in the state. It was one of BJP’s poll promises to Uttar Pradesh to check eve-teasing and protect the honour of women. Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra, the BJP Manifesto for UP Election 2017 states that, ‘Police stations near every college shall have an anti-Romeo squad to stop eve-teasing.’ Soon after Yogi Adityanath assumed the CM’s position, the anti-Romeo squad came into being in Uttar Pradesh.
योगी सरकार में बेटियों को कोई डर नहीं। pic.twitter.com/TmJowO2MPm
— BJP Uttar Pradesh (@BJP4UP) March 23, 2017
The squad shall constitute of police personnel, including women constables, who shall be on the watch for eve-teasers near schools, colleges, parks and other public spaces. UP Police has already taken up the mission seriously.
— Mirzapur Police (@mirzapurpolice) March 22, 2017
2) Is there an anti-Romeo squad in any other state?
Though anti-Romeo squad has gained public attention since Yogi has implemented it in Uttar Pradesh, the concept is not new to India. BJP had also implemented the same in Gujarat in the late 1990s which was active for two or three years. Though not under the same name, various state police administrations have taken efforts to check eve – teasing often slipping into moral policing. A recent incident in Kerala had gained attention as police got involved in harassing a couple in a park and the enraged couple took to Facebook Live to report the event.
3) Has the formation of this squad evoked strong reactions?
While no one can deny that the intention is in the right place, many fear that the anti-Romeo squad will end up becoming a tool to enforce moral policing and harassment of couples. With reports of the squad harassing couples, UP DGP Javeed Ahmed was quick in clarifying through Twitter that the drive is not meant for moral policing.
Safety of girls/ladies is the sole intent of the anti Romeo squads. No moral policing.
— Javeed (@javeeddgpup) March 22, 2017
The title, ‘anti-Romeo’ itself has come under scrutiny. Romeo, a Shakespearian romantic legend, assumes the contradictory role of an eve-teaser here.
Romeo and Juliet are symbol of romance #AntiRomeoSquad will make Shakespeare jump and kick in his grave
— Abhishek Bhalla (@AbhishekBhalla7) March 22, 2017
It is also seen as an attempt to deal with ‘love jihads’ wherein, a Hindu girl is wooed by a Muslim boy like the story of the couple, Romeo and Juliet, who belong to enemy clans of the city of Verona.
4) How have citizens responded to the concept of anti-Romeo squad?
BJP spox Narendra Taneja says UP"s maa & betis feel safer with #AntiRomeoSquad 1) Romeos not stalkers
2) Every girl has right to be Juliet
— Madhavan Narayanan (@madversity) March 22, 2017
Had there been one, Romeo should have filed defamation case against UP govt. for his character assassination #AntiRomeoSquad
— Ravinder Singh (@_RavinderSingh_) March 22, 2017
UP's Anti-Romeo squads "catch" young couples, send girls home after "moral teaching." Lord Krishna would've had a tough time in Vrindavan
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) March 23, 2017
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) March 22, 2017
However, not at all responses are negative. Here are few positive responses on twitter.
— Ayushi (@Ayushikesarwani) March 22, 2017
#AntiRomeoSquad By taking this off -beat step Yogiji hs proved his swift decision taking power in d interest of people of UP
— UTTRASHADA (@uttrashada) March 22, 2017
5) What is UP’s track record on women’s safety?
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Uttar Pradesh has reported 3025 rapes - 3rd in the country after Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Also, 5925 incidents of sexual harassment and 519 incidents of stalking were reported.