The Noida police is set to relaunch ‘Operation Romeo’ to apprehend stalkers after the abduction of a Snapdeal employee in Ghaziabad turned out to be a serious case of stalking. Police said random checking drives with personnel in plain clothes are being launched at metro stations, schools, colleges and other such institutions where offenders are likely to be found.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) of Gautam Budh Nagar, Kiran Sivakumar said the operation, which was launched in October last year, was halted as many officers were on election duty. Operation Romeo was devised after a girl committed suicide at Chhijarsi village. She was allegedly being stalked and harassed by a group of young men.
Last week, Snapdeal employee Dipti Sarna was allegedly abducted by a stalker from Ghaziabad while returning home. She was released 36 hours later. The case was widely followed even after Sarna returned safely, leading to police discovering that her abductor had been stalking her for over a year.
“Last year, we had detained total 41 suspects who were roaming around schools and colleges. All of the accused were in the early 20s. Their parents were called and after counselling, they were released. The operation created a sense of fear among the stalkers,” said Anup Singh, deputy superintendent of police (circle 2), Gautam Budh Nagar, adding that plain clothed policemen were doing the rounds to identify stalkers.
However, since the crime doesn’t always escalate to physical harm, a major problem police are facing is in victims not coming forward – often it’s because they wish to avoid a ‘legal tangle’ and also fear a backlash from society.
“The women should register a case against the stalker. If one stalker is jailed, tens of others will hesitate. To complete any campaign against stalkers, we need victims to come forward and fearlessly tell us about their ordeal. Their names will be kept a secret,” Sivakumar said.
The SSP also pointed out that the operation was not a permanent solution. Instead, he laid emphasis on increasing awareness and educating people about harassment.
“To avert such incidents, women should reach out to police. We have launched an awareness drive against sexual harassment at colleges, schools and offices. Female police officers are promoting working women to speak about anything suspicious they find while commuting, in the office, in their neighbourhood or at their home,” he said.