Uttar Pradesh’s anti-Romeo drive leaves boys scared, girls unconvinced
The sight of policemen zipping across Meerut in convoys, beacons flashing and sirens blaring, have sent single men scurrying for cover.india Updated: Mar 25, 2017 00:08 IST
To be spotted outside a girl’s college in Uttar Pradesh is to invite trouble these days. Two days after Yogi Adityanath took over as chief minister, Nakul, 23, was accosted by a posse of policemen in the western city of Meerut for loitering around the RG PG College on Kacheri Road.
Nakul, though, wasn’t a Romeo as the police suspected him to be. He happened to be waiting for his sister taking her Class 12 exam inside. Detained and interrogated, the cops let him off after a while, but not before leaving him shaken.
Policemen across 11 districts of Uttar Pradesh have hit the streets with vigour, following up on the newly sworn-in chief minister’s poll pledge to rid public places of eve-teasers. The order to set up anti-Romeo squads have not been formally communicated yet, but over-zealous policemen, including the ones in Meerut, have already swung into action, rounding up whoever found in the vicinity of a girl’s college.
On Wednesday, at least 15 were rounded up across the city. Ten of them turned out to be relatives or friends of girl students taking exams and were freed. Five were taken to the police station for further grilling and bit of counselling.
The sight of policemen zipping across the city in convoys, beacons flashing and sirens blaring, have sent single men scurrying for cover. The boys are scared. The girls are curious, but not fully convinced.
“Lucknow mein chalti train mein ladki ko tezaab pilaya gaya. Aap Romeo pakadiye (A girl was forced to drink acid in train and you are busy in catching Romeos),” scoffed Urmi Pundir, a BA final year student at RG College, referring to an acid attack on a woman just a day before.
Her classmates agreed, saying police surveillance minus excesses was welcome. “They can help us, but we do not entertain restrictions. We know what is right and what is wrong,” pointed out Neha Baliyan.
An undeterred police force is, however, doing what it does best: Wielding the stick. In Jhansi, they forced a teenager to publicly do sit-ups. In Lucknow, a couple headed for a movie was forced to disembark from an auto rickshaw and the man hauled to the police station.
For the last three days, we are just chasing eve teasers,” said Pooja Singh, a woman constable of Meerut.
She is part of the six-car convoy that has just got out of the Civil Lines residence of the Meerut(City) superintendent of police Alok Priyadarshi on the lookout for Romeos. The city isn’t the best place for women – Meerut has the third-highest number of crimes against women in UP– but a day after they had picked up 15, Priyadarshi’s team struggled to lay their hands on anyone.
Their first stop was the Government Girls’ College in Zakir Colony. No Romeos were to be found there and the police moved to the next stop: Ismail National Mahila College. There too no teenagers were spotted, though some middle-aged men were seen. The police quizzed some of them, but found to their dismay they were nearby shopkeepers.
The police had no luck even at the RG PG College for Girls, or even at the Star Plaza market, their last stop for the day.
Priyadarshi, however, chose to see only the brighter side: That the city is getting safer. Mindful of the media on their trail, he also got the principal of a girl’s college to back his claim. “Now, the girls are feeling safe,” said Sadhna Sahai.
All the while, students of the college looked on from the windows of their classrooms with a degree of incredulity. “Some boys used to harass us, but not a cop was seen then. Today, there are so many cops but no boys,” pointed out Urmi Pundir.
Others nursed doubts about how long the anti-Romeo drive would go on. One student summed it up succinctly: “Wait till the novelty factor wears off. The police will vanish and the Romeos would be back. Meerut will be what it always used to be.”