A day after mid-day reported how the Malwani Police humiliated and harassed couples when they raided hotels in Madh Island and Aksa, police chief Rakesh Maria orders an inquiry into the raid, but tries to justify it by saying the police were acting on the basis of complaints by residents and local MLA
With mid-day’s report on Thursday’s moral policing in hotels in the Madh Island and Aksa areas sparking outrage and triggering calls for action both online and off, Mumbai’s top cop has admitted that if two consenting adults are inside a hotel room, it is none of the police’s business.
Reacting to mid-day’s report on nearly 40 couples being rounded up from hotels, insulted, and charged with indecency in public for the ‘crime’ of seeking some privacy, Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said, “If two adults are inside a hotel room with their consent, then it is none of our business.” Maria has also initiated a probe into the raid, which was conducted by the Malwani police.
Some of the people who were caught during the raid
Asked to comment on allegations that the police team humiliated the couples and even asked some of them to call their parents, Maria said, “I have ordered Additional Commissioner of Police (North Region) to inquire into the matter and submit a detailed report to me. We will decide on further course of action based on the report submitted by him.”
mid-day had reported how a 19-year-old girl who had been rounded up had been feeling suicidal because of the trauma and stigma from the raid and because her parents had not been speaking to her.
A 21-year-old girl, who was in a hotel room with her fiance, whom she is set to marry in a month, had also alleged that she had been slapped by a female constable for daring to protest against the police action, which she felt was in violation of her rights as an Indian citizen.
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The Malwani police, which had carried out the raid, had been in the limelight recently when several of its officers were suspended for allowing a spurious liquor racket to flourish in their jurisdiction, leading to the deaths of more than 100 people in the hooch tragedy in June.
Though Maria refused to comment on the Malwani police’s moral policing act till the inquiry was completed, he justified the raid saying, “There had been several complaints from local residents as well as the MLA about couples behaving indecently in public.
Following this, the raid was conducted and we even picked up some sex workers from the lodges.” When mid-day spoke to the MLA of Malad (West) Aslam Shaikh, he said, “I had complained several times on the issues of illegal cottages, roadside prostitution and drinking in public.
I had also complained about hotels where prostitution rackets are being run. I have never, however, complained about consenting couples occupying hotel rooms legally. In fact, during raids to check on prostitution and other illegal activities, the police should ensure that such couples and families are not harassed.”
The outrage also led the Mumbai Police spokesperson Dhananjay Kulkarni to issue a press release on Saturday, which stated: “There were lots of complaints from the public and local residents about people drinking liquor in open spaces like the beaches of the Aksa, Madh and Danapani areas.
On August 6, the police picked up drunkards from Aksa beach and 13 couples, who were behaving indecently around the beach. Around 64 (people) were charged under Section 110 (Behaving indecently in public) Bombay Police Act.
Each person was charged R1,200. In simultaneous action, police checked guesthouses around Aksa Beach and arrested three women from three guesthouses under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act. Some people found in guesthouses were allowed to go after enquiry.”
Additional Commissioner of Police (North Region) Fatehsingh Patil, who is carrying out the inquiry on the directions of Rakesh Maria, said, “I am making enquiries with the hotel staff and civilians who were present at the time of the raid. A detailed report regarding this will be tabled before the commissioner by tomorrow (Monday).”
mid-day’s report on Saturday drew a lot of reaction on social media, with reactions ranging from the outraged to the hilarious
vir sanghvi @virsanghvi: A truly horrifying story. The Maharashtra CM should suspend the cops at once and order an inquiry. #khakhitaliban
Shekhar Gupta @ShekharGupta: Mumbai Police raids hotels, shames couples by making them call parents. Seems cops saw Masaan & drew wrong lessons
Rohan @mojorojo: The dirtiest card the Indian police play with young people is the “I’ll call your parents" one. Use it to terrorise kids into anything. The cops exploit the communication breakdown between kids and their often conservative parents beautifully. F*****g vultures
Shirish Kunder @ShirishKunder: After playing Moral Police, Mumbai Police to play Fashion Police. Anyone dressed badly will be arrested.
Ashwin Mushran @ashwinmushran: “We are arresting you for public indecency... “But sir, I’m in my home” “... Home is on a road, road is public... Chalo jail” #MumbaiPolice
raghu ram @tweetfromRaghu: Allow spurious liquor sale, but arrest couples. Yes. Acche din are here
Gaurav Kapur @gauravkapur: Hello Taliban, where can we register? I am sure we qualify now. Slow clap
Jose Covaco @HoeZaay: No dirty jokes.No porn. And now consenting adults in private arrested. Our authorities spend way too much time thinking about us naked.
Tanmay Bhat @thetanmay: Have been caught having coffee with several female friends late night by cops and not one of them has not tried to harass me / tried shaming… “What are you two doing sitting a car late night?” :Sir just having a cigarette and coffee” “Do your parents know you smoke?”
Trendulkar @Trendulkar: “Ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahi ho sakte” - Mumbai Police
The number of couples who were rounded up in the raid