Don’t harass consenting adults: Brass to cops

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MEERUT: On the back foot after a string of criticism on their style of functioning and increasing reports of “heavy-handedness” employed by some in the teams, anti-Romeo squads have now been given a set of strict dos and don’ts by the police brass.
This comes barely a day after videos of a cop in an anti-Romeo squad asking a girl in Mainpuri to hold her ears and do sit-ups went viral. The squads, which were formed by the new government in UP to curb instances of harassment of girls and “eve-teasing”, have been told to curb their alleged excesses on youths.
Senior officers have laid out a clear set of rules and marked out “no-go zones” for anti-Romeo squads as they go about their job. J Ravinder Goud, the Meerut SSP, told TOI: “We have issued strict guidelines to the cops. They have been directed not to unnecessarily enter parks just to catch couples. Besides there should not be any commenting or moral policing from their end. And punishing them is a big no. We have also instructed the squads to focus only on eve teasers or those with ‘evil’ intentions.”
On Thursday, some of them went through a “sensitisation meeting” in which they were asked not to “meddle in the affairs of consenting couples”.
The SPP added that anti-Romeo squad members should stay in touch with principals and teachers of schools and colleges in order to assist them in providing a safe environment to girls and women in general. “We have also communicated to the squads that if any cop is found using force to humiliate an innocent person either by slapping or any other means, strict action will be taken against the concerned policeman,” Goud said.
In Meerut district alone, 30 teams comprising some 100 inspectors and constables constitute these anti-Romeo squads whose main task is to rid the city of “eve-teasers”.
SP (city) Alok Priyadarshi said, “Because of its unique nature, the newly formed squads might have gone overboard in isolated cases, but a strong message has gone to eve teasers and we have been able to curb this menace to a large extent. However, if we talk about the sensitivity of the issue, we have spoken to the teams to have a balanced approach so that the innocent are not harassed. And one point that has been emphatically brought home is that there should be no police meddling in the affairs of consenting couples.”
UP police has come under heavy attack while discharging its duties as anti-Romeo squads. In Rampur, for instance, police on Sunday detained a “couple” from a medicine shop for five hours. They eventually turned out to be cousins.
Incidents like these and many others not only drew heavy criticism of police on social media but even became a cause of embarrassment for the Yogi Adityanath government, so much so that the UP CM on Friday said “boys and girls are not to be harassed unnecessarily.”

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