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CM’s call for action sees MP police punish unsuspecting youth in public for ‘harassing’ girls

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had warned police and bureaucrats to improve the law and order situation in the state within a week or face transfers.

bhopal Updated: Mar 24, 2018 19:51 IST
Punya Priya Mitra and Shruti Tomar
Punya Priya Mitra and Shruti Tomar
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Madhya Pradesh,Shivraj Singh Chouhan,Gyanoday College
A woman constable kicks a youngster while he does push ups on the road in Neemuch. Police accused the youngster and his friends of harassing college girls.(HT Photo)

It is a Wednesday the three youngsters of Gyanoday College in western Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch town will never forget.

They were talking to some of their college friends when a police team arrived. Suddenly, the boys found themselves surrounded by policemen and accused of harassing the girls. The policemen allegedly slapped the three, made them do squats and walk for a kilometre to the Kotwali police station.

Police freed them a few hours later when the college authorities and a large number of students protested at the police action.

Incidentally, none of the girls complained that the boys were harassing them.

“Overzealous police officials unnecessarily humiliated the boys. They were innocent,” said Hanif Khan, father of one of the girls who was allegedly harassed.

Read | Improve law and order or face transfer: MP CM to police and bureaucrats

The father of one of the boys humiliated by the police said he considered approaching the court against what police did to his son. “My family and friends dissuaded me not to take on the police. My son is depressed after the humiliation,” he said.

Jitendra Singh Pawar, additional superintendent of police of Neemuch, admitted the boys were wrongly targeted and said an inquiry has been ordered.

“The boys were made to walk because there was no vehicle available, it was not intended to humiliate them,” he said.

But parading those accused of crimes against women and also history-sheeters has been repeatedly reported from across most of the state’s 51 districts ever since chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told police officials over video conference last Sunday that they were not doing enough to stop criminals and crimes against women.

He had also praised the police force of Indore and Bhopal, who have been publicly humiliating those accused of crimes against women. The CM also posted a video in which he is heard saying, “I want only action, action, action.”

The CM’s action call was made after the opposition slammed the government over the state’s poor record in crimes against women. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures for 2016, the state tops the country in the number of rapes (4,882) and is third in cases related to outraging modesty of women (8,717).

Following the CM’s message, police are also conducting sting operations to catch people peddling porn movies. Police are also keeping a close eye on massage parlour and hotels, many of which are believed to be dens of illegal activities.

“The CM’s words and tweet have resulted in superintendents of police trying to outdo each other. This is resulting in allegations of excesses,” said a senior police officer who did not want to be named.

At the ground level, there is apparent support for public displays of such police action.

In Chhattarpur town, police bulldozed the illegal house of a murder accused who had been absconding. He surrendered a day after his house was demolished.

The next day, a group of people from the town went and thanked the administration.

In Rewa division, police are sitting in busy paan and tea shops in civil clothes and taking action the moment they spot a woman being harassed.

“The impact has been great and we are being appreciated, “ said Umesh Joga, inspector general of police, Rewa zone .

State human rights commission chairperson Manohar Mamtani said they will act if they receive any complaint of police excesses.

Director general of police Rishi Kumar Shukla said he has not received any complaint of excesses by police in carrying out the drive so far. On possible violation of human rights in the course of such police action, he said, “We are following all rules and regulations and there is bound to be criticism from some quarters.”

First Published: Mar 24, 2018 18:50 IST