In an interview to a TV channel on Monday night, BJP president Amit Shah declared in a patronising manner that if his party is voted to power in Uttar Pradesh, it would establish a “anti-Romeo squad” to protect girls and women. He added that such a plan is not “communal”. “It is the right of every girl to study in her own city or village. That is why it would not be correct to paint everything as communal”.
While this is a clever pitch to counter what the Samajwadi Party government under Akhilesh Yadav has done --- The Women Power Line 1090, an IVRS-based dedicated helpline for women --- Shah’s idea is not just a bad one but also dangerous.
First, safety and security of women is not the responsibility of any party/group but of the policing system and society. That needs to be beefed up, de-politicised and better systems put in place (helplines, CCTV cameras, all-women police station) to ensure women’s safety.
Second, we already have several vigilante groups that are creating havoc in many parts of the country. Do we need another extra-constitutional/judicial group that could become the same, drawing support from the administration?
Third, Mr Shah also said that such a group should not be seen as “communal”. “It is the right of every girl to study in her own city or village. That is why it would not be correct to paint everything as communal,” he explained.
While many would love to believe him, the stench of the BJP’s divisive programme --- love jihad--- would be difficult to remove. The programme, which suggested that young Muslim men were being trained to court Hindu women in order to convert them to Islam, was played out during its campaign for the 2014 national election.
If the BJP comes to power, it will have loads to do and fix in the state.
This kind of dim-witted plan (anti-Romeo squads) should not even be raised for consideration.