Residents’ association denies permission for social campaign.
When 23-year-old Anisha Sharma, decided to give her fellow citizens a hug, she didn’t predict the feathers she’d be ruffling in the process. She planned to conduct a Free Hugs campaign on December 10, at Bandra’s Carter Road promenade, but was in for a surprise when the Bandra West Residents’ Association (BWRA) declined the request.
“I wanted to propagate the spirit of love and joy without any agenda. A few days ago, I started tweeting about conducting this drive. About 40 people volunteered,” she says, adding, “But, when I approached BWRA, I was told that it can’t happen because people in the city were not ready for it.”
Roshan Dabhoiwala, treasurer and trustee, BWRA, said that most of the members did not want it, since it is difficult to control the crowd. “Women’s safety on the promenade is compromised. People may try to take advantage of the volunteers,” she said, adding, “Earlier this year, when the Slut Walk people had approached us, we had refused permission to them too because we didn’t want to run to the police and answer questions in case of a mishap.”
However, Anisha feels this is a case of bureaucracy. “There are people who’d try and take advantage, but we shouldn’t generalise. I had decided to have people stand in pairs — a boy and a girl— and ask people if they wanted a hug or felt like talking to someone,” she adds.
Ask her if she plans to conduct the campaign at some other location in the city and she says, “I had approached the police at Marine Drive, after the campaign got canned at Bandra, but they asked me to get approval from the BMC first. I don’t know why it’s so hard to do something so simple. I wish there were people willing to give us a chance.”