Inspired by the “Gulabi Gang” of Uttar Pradesh, a group of women from Bhopal came together on Friday to take up issues like people riding two-wheelers without helmets but their move boomeranged when police arrested six of them.
On Friday morning, about 10 members of the Kali Gang – so named because of their black saris – kicked off their campaign against helmetless riders at Nadra Bus stand and stopped several people.
The women from Shakti Nagar initially smeared black paint on the faces of riders but after some men protested, they began daubing only foreheads with the paint.
This drama continued for an hour and thanks to coverage by the electronic media, the women soon became the talk of the town.
But when some people informed the nearby Hanumanganj police station about their activities, police arrested six of the women and a man who was accompanying them.
Superintendent of police Arvind Saxena said, "We want people to wear helmets and follow traffic rules but we can't allow such an anti-social way of forcing people to follow traffic rules. The act of the Kali Gang is condemnable. They were doing it on a busy street and it could have created tension in the area."
Saxena dismissed the women’s campaign as nothing "more than a cheap publicity stunt".
He said, “The main members of the group, Madhu Raikwar and Shailendra Raikwar, told police that they were social workers and formed a group of 100 women to fight against social evil. We asked them to show their papers but they don't have any paper (on the) registration of the group.”
Raikwar told Hindustan Times: "We recently formed the group in the name of Goddess Kali. The group includes distressed women who are fed up with their husbands, who have the bad habit of consuming alcohol. Recently, we fought for three girls who were not allowed by the school management to appear in an exam. We also held a de-addiction drive."
Raikwar’s husband Shailendra Raikwar, who claimed to be a former member of the Shiv Sena, too claimed the women were social activists.
Police booked the women under sections of the Indian Penal Code related to rioting and wrongful restraint of people, according to Saxena.
The Gulabi Gang, whose members wear bright pink saris, was formed almost nine years ago in Uttar Pradesh by Sampat Pal to take up issues such as the caste system and to empower women. The movement now has thousands of members across north India.