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India: Morality policing in UP capital city

Monday 27 March 2017, by siawi3

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/lucknow/parks-in-lucknow-wear-a-deserted-look-after-anti-romeo-drive/story-TWlvYNAOgYtRXk9bJwlrPL.html

Parks in Lucknow wear a deserted look after anti-Romeo drive

25th March 2017, 12:01PM IST

With a huge green cover of almost 2 lakh sq ft, including 15,000 trees of 50 species, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Park is considered one of the greenest places in UP. But it wore a ‘deserted’ look on Friday, courtesy the ongoing ‘Anti-Romeo’ drive launched by the state government.

“Greenery is not the only ‘ingredient’ that infuses life in a park. It’s also the people, mainly the couples, who are missing since the drive was launched,” said Chandrika Kumar, a guard at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Park that came into existence in 2007.

Kumar said the anti-Romeo drive has become a cause of harassment for visitors.

The UP Police formed Anti-Romeo squads a day after Aditya Nath Yogi took charge as chief minister on March 19.

The park that used to be visited by around 1,000 couples a day was abandoned on Friday. The staff in the park said during the drive on Thursday many couples were harassed and even manhandled by female and male cops.
“A couple sitting in the park was manhandled by a woman cop, after which they kept crying and pleading,” said another guard at the Lohia Park.

The situation was no different at other parks in the city.

Apart from park staff, couples also found the drive ‘objectionable’ and ‘baseless’. “It’s unfair on the part of police as they don’t have the right to interfere in anybody’s personal life. Moral policing is not required here,” said a college-goer.

Reacting to the government’s move, another college student said: “I don’t think that the Anti-Romeo Squad is ensuring any safety to women. It’s only adding to their miseries and making lives of youngsters hell. We never voted for this.”

“The drive has lost its purpose and the UP government should intervene immediately. Before pulling up youths, cops should try to ascertain who the Romeo is. If couples are sitting or moving in parks with consent, then it’s nobody’s business to pull them up,” said a school teacher.