There was a species native to Indian towns and cities when I was growing up. It was a kind of young male that gathered in streets, usually around a source of sustenance like a tea or tobacco dispenser. This was more commonly found in the vicinity of a collection of “prey”, such as a girl’s school or college. In addition to making howling noises and making girls miserable, this group would occasionally attack one of the prey. This is an endangered species in most places now, including Central India where I live, but obviously not in the land stretching from Bihar to Haryana. The “alpha males”, the guys in power, have used these herds for their purposes for a long time and have subjugated women using what can only be called terror tactics.
Fear of attacks has imprisoned women, and limited not only their choices, but the progress of the areas as a whole. Female foeticide and violence against women are but manifestations of this subjugation of women. The solution has to come from policing these herds.
What is the right punishment for these herds? Throwing them in prison and clogging the already clogged justice system is counterproductive. We need law enforcement, not a criminal crackdown.
Rounding up is often good enough. Maybe just a show of intent will be enough. Some humiliation will also go a long way, just parade them in the eyes of the media and ask them to apologise to the girls they have been harassing. If these things persist even for a few months, none of the young guys will be permanently harmed, and hundreds of thousands will be dissuaded. Its quite simple, really. So whats the problem with what the “Anti Romeo Squads” are doing in UP?
The guy ordering it is the problem. The media, and the self appointed elites, have decided that Yogi Adityanath is bad. Nothing he does could be right, especially for the “weaker sections”, which includes women. A religious guy, especially an ascetic, a Sanyasi, has to be misogynist.
The “Anti Romeo Squads” in UP are not a random move. BJP campaigned on it. And the people gave a massive mandate to the party. So this probably is something the people of UP really want. So what reason could these crooks conjure up to oppose this? This is “Moral Policing” they say.
Moral Police, the real one, like in countries like the Saudi Arabia and Iran, is a force meant to control women. It is used to enforce religious dictate and whims of the Mullahs. It is a tool to imprison the women, and to ensure that any blame of any attack on a woman falls squarely to the woman. The Anti-Romeo Squads are targeting men. It aims to make it easier for women to move around freely. It aims to make women safer. This is the exact opposite of what the real Moral Police wants to do. Does the media not understand this?
Of course they do. They understand too well that Anti Romeo Squads are police enforcing laws, not “Moral Police” enforcing codes of behaviour. Its just a longstanding mission of theirs to equate Indian Right with the worst of religious nuts. Words like Hindu Taliban, Saffron Terror, Rabid Hindu Nationalism etc are all part of the same narrative. They will empathise with those who run illegal slaughterhouses with barbaric conditions for the cattle. They will empathise with the slain terrorist’s headmaster father. They will empathise with the “poor young men” who are not even allowed to ogle and molest young girls. Even if there is an they have the words of of their Samajwadi patron: “Ladke hain, ġalti ho jati hai”.
We have to stand up now. The media has clearly shown that there are no depths it will fall to in order to make the Right look bad. This also shows, however, that there is not much genuine ammunition for the media. It has to resort to more and more outlandish comparisons. For anyone who has been following the news this is eerily reminiscent of the campaign against a certain CM of Gujarat.
Anti Romeo squads are not tools of fascism and moral policing. They are tools of women’s liberation in the real sense. They have a potential to make women safer, but the self proclaimed liberals are more interested in complaining than in women’s safety.