Jatayu Dasta: Dehradun’s anti-romeo squad
Move over ‘anti-Romeo squads’ of Uttar Pradesh – here comes the Jatayu Dasta – a squad of special teams formed by the Bajrang Dal to ‘take care of’ young girls being harassed by boys in Dehradun, the city famous as an education hub. Bajrang Dal is the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a right wing nationalist organization. Having more than a dozen schools and colleges on their radar, the vigilant teams carefully ‘cover’ what they refer to as “manchalon ke adde” (haunts of eve-teasers) around the schools’ radii over the next one hour. “With our experience, we can easily tell the trouble elements…we warn them and inform the police (about such boys) whenever required,” Verma says, after they stop and warn two boys near a girls’ school in Khurbura area. One of the teams stops a girl and a boy chatting with each other near a school in Laxman Chowk area, but lets them go when the girl insists the boy is her “cousin brother”. “Besides our regular patrolling, we also act on alerts from people,” says Shyam Sharma, a volunteer. “For us, it is like a samaj sewa (social service),” declare volunteers Saurabh Dhiman and Sandeep Thakur as they zoom past scrutinizing a narrow lane.