Last week, almost all of us were being keyboard warriors either protesting (read trolling) or defending the recent tweet by Prashant Bhushan suggesting that the Anti-Romeo squad of the UP Police be renamed to Anti-Krishna squad as his tweet (now deleted) claimed Krishna to be an eve-teaser. However, a law student from Lucknow did the unthinkable by using logic and knowledge to protest against the system by using the system.
The 22-year old filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking a “clear distinction between checking eve-teasing and moral policing”. The PIL also raises questions about the naming of the squad. This comes after multiple reports of the squad indulging in moral policing and unjustified harassment of innocent citizens. The reports often include bizarre incidents of abuse of power like nabbing men out with their wives, or even siblings.
The PIL filed in Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow circuit bench also seeks to change the ridiculously named ‘Anti-Romeo Squad’. Anyone and everyone who has ever read or even heard of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare knows it to be a tragic love story of two people madly in love with each other. From an icon of undying love, ‘Romeo’ has now become a symbol of eve-teasing and gender-based harassment. The petition desires that the Romeo be replaced with an “appropriate word”. And come on, it’s not like you can’t think of anything apart from a name which is a slap-in-the-face to English literature. Maybe, just maybe you could name it as Women’s Safety Squad?
“The entire operation appears to be running on the police’s personal discretion, with little accountability. How can the police catch hold of men, whether they are guilty or not, and force them to do sit-ups on the road while holding their ears? No one has the right to degrade or diminish anyone’s dignity and respect whether in a private place or in a public place (sic),” the petition filed by the third-year law student says. It also alleges the government “is failing to ensure that the police do not harass the innocent and civil liberties are not violated.”
The petition demands from the court a ”a proper implementation prospectus” and claims that “functioning and powers granted to the anti-Romeo squads according to law is inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights under article 14, 19 and 21 guaranteed under Constitution of India.”
“I am not against the anti-Romeo squad but the implementation has to be improved a lot. This PIL was a necessity. People are being harassed,” said Rituraj Mishra, the student at Bengaluru’s KLE Society Law College.
The petition asks for the establishment of a different government body that will record any and all complaints against the unit states that a “strict check” on the squads will ensure “optimal results” and prevent “moral policing”.
As per the statement of Ayodhya Prasad Mishra, the lawyer of Rituraj, the PIL will be heard anytime this week. Let’s hope it goes through and some of amount of order is restored to the land of chaos that Uttar Pradesh is. And that it teaches our politicians better ways to retort instead of saying anything just because they can.