Lucknow, Dec 1: Wondering what has happened to Uttar Pradesh's anti-Romeo squad (ARS) formed by the Yogi Adityanath government immediately after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in the state in March early this year?
Don't worry, the squad formed to protect women from eve-teasers and molesters in public space is very much there to do its duty in UP. It is just that the ARS has stopped grabbing headlines for harassing consenting couples and friends in public space.
After its formation, the ARS was more in news for punishing young men and boys found talking with their female friends than catching hold of actual eve-teasers and molesters.
Now, things have changed. Thanks to one of the country's best B-schools, the premier Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow, the ARS has undergone a complete makeover and is quietly doing its duty without harassing an innocent man or boy.
The image makeover of the ARS has come after its members underwent a Rs 20,000-a-day course in anger management, transaction analysis, and emotional intelligence.
The course for the ARS team, consisting of female and male constables, was conducted by the management gurus of IIM-Lucknow and leading psychotherapists of the state, reported The Times of India.
While the B-school faculties gave lessons in gender sensitisation, body language, and micro-expressions, psychotherapists relied on alternative approaches to "lower blood pressure" along with meditation techniques, added The Times of India report.
"Self-leadership communication techniques had to be deployed to deal with the cops here. The focus was on communicating with the patriarchal world, where we question the women more than we do the perpetrator. So we would tell the police personnel to take assertive leadership but not without being empathetic in the situation," said human resources management professor Himanshu Rai at IIM-Lucknow who led the course training.
The formation of the ARS was a poll promise of the BJP. While many appreciated the Adityanath government's initiative to protect women in the state, who often faced sexual assaults on the streets during the previous regime of the Samajwadi Party (SP), others protested against the move as many men/boys complaint about harassment faced by them even for talking to girls/women.
Several reports said that many men/boys were asked to do sit-ups in public by the members of the ARS. There were also reports of men/boys being beaten badly by the members of the squad. One video clip showed the head of a man being saved by the personnel of a squad for allegedly molesting a woman.
From Akhilesh Yadav to several Congress leaders, many openly criticised the functioning of the anti-Romeo squads posted in various parts of the state.
One main criticism against the squads was its name itself because critics felt that Romeo, a famous character by Shakespeare, was not a molester, but a lover and lovers generally are not sexual predators.
After UP, BJP-ruled Haryana also formed a special group to protect women called --Operation Durga--in April.