Lucknow, April 19: It has been almost a month--March 21 to be precise--when the newly formed Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh announced the formation of anti-Romeo squads in various parts of the state.
The anti-Romeo drive was a poll promise of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to rein in stalkers, eve-teasers and molesters in public places. Within a couple of hours of the announcement of the much-publicised project of the current Uttar Pradesh government, members of the 'controversial' squads started the drive with great promptness and detained several alleged eve-teasers and stalkers, especially in cities like Lucknow, Kanpur and Meerut, to name a few places.
The members of these squads, under the state police department, mostly frequented colleges, malls and parks-- the popular dens of anti-social elements--to nab culprits. It was one of Adityanath's most-discussed programmes since he became the chief minister of the state.
Many women, especially young college students, appreciated the move as public spaces became unsafe for them during the last Samajwadi Party rule. However, the drive created a nationwide uproar too as reports indicated that many men/boys were detained and questioned by the police for merely talking to girls.
Several consenting couples also told television journalists that the members of the squads questioned and humiliated them for merely talking. There were reports like members of an anti-Romeo squad shaving the head of a man, the video of which went viral on social media. Many men were also made to do sit-ups on the road by anti-Romeo squads.
After much fanfare and controversy, now reports suggest that the drive is coming to a closure in places like Meerut. According to Hindustan Times, the members of anti-Romeo squads which were earlier seen in a large numbers outside girls' colleges of Meerut were nowhere to be seen anywhere now.
There is no official confirmation whether the drive would continue or not in Meerut, but almost zero presence of anti-Romeo squad members in public places have raised questions about the 'longevity' of the project.