By Ila Ananya
We all know what the anti-Romeo squads have been doing in Uttar Pradesh. They were supposed to be in place to “protect” women from sexual harassment, but with a name like that, how could they ever do anything but moral police couples? Anyway, after Operation Romeo, there’s now, in a fully casteist avatar, an Operation Durga, started for the same purpose, in Haryana.
On Wednesday, the police, which works directly under CM Manohar Lal Khattar, launched Operation Durga to curb sexual harassment. In one day, they’ve detained 74 men in 14 districts, and reportedly, 24 teams, including 14 women sub-inspectors and 3 women constables were pushed into action. They moved around in plain clothes, particularly outside girl’s colleges and schools.
“What is wrong in following good moves of other states?” Amit Arya, Khattar’s media advisor has reportedly said, so we’re rather hesitant to believe immediately that something that calls itself Operation Durga isn’t going to become like Operation Romeo, or Operation Majnu (in 2005, Meerut).
Of course the Haryana government says their reason for starting the squads are that women are hesitant to report harassment. From all the recent cases we’ve seen and the squad this police group is modelling itself on, we won’t be surprised at all if this stops being about harassment.
Apart from saying that a many women do in fact report sexual harassment, we’d like to also just pause for a second and remember all the factors that might stop women from reporting—including the behaviour of the police themselves. There have been cases where policemen have been incredibly slow, have asked gross questions, have wondered how an incident of molestation is actually an incident of molestation because a woman has had lunch with the man. So can’t the state governments do something else instead—something more long term that might actually prevent sexual violence, and look into what stops some women from reporting sexual assault?