After being accused of moral policing for rounding up 16 couples aged between 15 and 24 from a public garden adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) over the weekend, Quaiser Khalid, the additional commissioner of police (east), was prompt in questioning, “What does the city want from the police? While one section of society sent us letter after letter saying that the youth cross limits in public, another section of the same society is alleging that we are moral policing. We know that the city’s youth face a lack of private space, and we only request moderation on their part. If they choose to ignore our warnings, how can they expect us not to take action?”
While two minors were let off, 30 others were charged under section 110 of the Bombay Police Act (indecent behaviour in a public place) and had to pay a fine of Rs1,200. Even their parents were called to the police station.
However, one of the boys rounded up by the police, on condition of anonymity, said that it should have been their decision and not that of the police as to when they wanted to break the news to their respective families. “The youth is not as naive now, and we have the right to decide when to tell our families who we want to spend our lives with,” he said.
Khalid added that they started the drive over 15 days ago after receiving complaints from residents living around the public garden near Vasant Vihar Society in Mulund (West). “All we asked them for was moderation and be alert to the fact that they are not alone there. However, with threats to the security of women, we had to take necessary action,” said Khalid.
“They are free to make choices in their lives but should not turn away from their responsibility,” concluded Khalid.