Cops, focus your energies on criminals

Mumbai Police has once again come under fire for moral policing. A blog post by a 24-year-old-content writer has put the city police in the dock for harassing him and his girlfriend at a fairly crowded public place near Oberoi Mall in Goregaon, in the name of moral policing.

In his blog, the writer claimed they (he and his girlfriend) were sitting fairly apart and that his girlfriend only had her hand around his waist when a team of policemen arrived at the spot and charged them for indulging in Public Display of Affection (PDA). Justifying their act, the cops said that they were only following the CP’s (Commissioner of Police) orders.

This is not an isolated case. In the past, too, innumerable couples have been put through mental agony for hugging, giving a peck on the cheeks and, sometimes, just for holding hands in public. Police have fined them under Section 110 of the Bombay Police Act, for ‘indecent behaviour in public’. The act doesn’t define what ‘indecent behaviour in public’ is, leaving its interpretation to the local constable to take action as he deems fit.

In January 2013, the then police commissioner, Satyapal Singh, had issued a written circular to all police stations in the city, asking his men to restrict couples at rock-beds and isolated spots at places like Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Worli Sea Face, Marine Drive, Bandra bandstand, Versova Beach, Aksa Beach, Dadar Chowpatty, Madh Island, Gorai, Manori beach, Girgaum Chowpatty and Juhu Beach.

In a damage-control exercise, top officers had then said that the intention was not to crack down on couples, but to protect them from criminals. They conceded that the wording and language of the advisory “could have been different”.

Instead of chasing these couples in bushes, if the police had focussed their zealousness and vigour in prosecuting those involved in heinous crimes, Mumbai would’ve eradicated street crimes by now.

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