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What makes a good anti-Romeo cop? Take the UP Police quiz to test your skills

Facing negative feedback over how anti- Romeo squads have been conducting their business, the Uttar Pradesh Police implemented a sensitisation programme to improve on tact and their social interaction with civilians.

india Updated: May 21, 2017 13:05 IST
Rohit K Singh
Rohit K Singh
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Anti-Romeo squads,UP,Yogi Adityanath
An anti-Romeo squad questions a youth following regulations imposed by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, in Lucknow, on April 6, 2017. (Reuters File Photo)

How to behave with couples at public places? Would you punish them at the spot, force them to do sit-ups, frisk and interrogate them, or do nothing?

Some 55 policemen who are members of Uttar Pradesh’s anti-Romeo squads were asked the question this week on the orders of the state’s director general of police following massive criticism of police high-handedness during an ongoing crackdown on sexual harassment of women at public places.

The policemen were participating in a sensitisation programme aimed at correcting public perception about the drive initiated days after Yogi Adityanath took over as the chief minister, but besmirched by allegations of police excesses.

What they were asked was part of a 10-point objective questionnaire to test their tact so that they could tweak their responses while on duty.

The other questions asked included what is the objective of an anti-Romeo squad? Check crime against women, check harassment of girls and women, teach lessons to spoilt brats or to check couples sitting in public places?

Another poser pertained to how the squad members would act while doing the rounds. Should they demand ID card from couples sitting at public places and quiz them, frisk people sitting at public places, scold couples sitting at public places or do none of the above.

Senior police officials were reluctant to share how the policemen who took the test fared, but insisted the sensitization would help in bringing about a sea change to their outlook and brush up the drive’s public image.

‘The training programme is aimed at sensitizing them about their work profile, communication skills, gesture and legal aspects of the campaign,” said Navniet Sekera, the inspector general of police in-charge of the 1090 women helpline service.

“They are being told they do not need to get involved in moral policing or troubling couples. Their work is to ensure that nobody troubled women at public places, outside schools, colleges and in market places,” Sekera added.

A copy of the multiple-choice questionnaire handed out to UP cops during the sensitisation programme. ( HT Photo )

Though the new chief minister’s pet initiative, the anti-Romeo squads have been embroiled in controversies from day one as reports of police excesses poured in from all corners. A movie-going couple was dragged out of their auto rickshaw and dragged to the police station in Lucknow, a young man was forced to do sit-ups in Jhansi and several young men were rounded up in Meerut for accompanying their sisters to the college.

Deputy superintendent of police Babita Singh said answers of the policemen to the questions varied upon their individual backgrounds. Graduates and post-graduates from urban centres had different responses than those from rural areas, she said.

This week’s session that lasted seven hours was attended by sub-inspectors and constables with a trained psychologist and a legal expert in attendance. Similar sessions for higher level officers including DSPs and additional SPs will be held soon.

At the session, most policemen sought help on how to deal with situations where onlookers objected to couples sitting in parks. “They were told not to get involved in a harsh interaction but to warn the couples that their actions were causing problem to others,” an official said.

First Published: May 21, 2017 08:39 IST