This Article is From Dec 24, 2013

Cop made couples in Hyderabad park do sit-ups

Hyderabad: A police inspector in Hyderabad has chosen to implement his own brand of moral policing, punishing couples he allegedly caught in a public park by making them do sit-ups in public.

The incident reportedly happened last week in a park near the historic 7 Tombs monument under the Golconda police station limits. Half a dozen couples were punished by the police which made them do sit-ups, while a man in uniform kept count.

The whole episode was video-graphed and put up by a Web-based news magazine as part of a report that praised Inspector Nayeemuddin Javed as a conscientious police officer upholding Islamic values.

In the video, the inspector explains that most of the college going youngsters, whose parents are abroad, leave home wearing jeans and T-shirt. Some of these girls use expensive mobiles, bunk college and go to parks with their boyfriend, he says, adding that there have been cases of young people running away to get married. He offers advise to parents that they must keep a check on their children, and enquire in the college, at least once or twice a month.

Women's groups from the Old City say they are shocked at the audacity of the police officer and, even worse, the silence of his superiors. "This can't be called policing. It is not acceptable. The law does not give the police the right to be moral police. If they find young boys and girls in objectionable situations, they could use maitree police to counsel them. Or if something obscene is happening, they could apply Section 294. There is provision within the law. These ad hoc methods are humiliating and violate rights," says Andhra Pradesh Women's Commission member Sunita Krishnan.

Amjed Ullah Khan, leader of Hyderabad-based Majlis Bachao Tehreek, sees this as an attempt to defame the community. "The girls belonged to the Muslim community. May be they did something wrong, like bunking classes and going to the park. But the way police acted is atrocious. It has created a major controversy among Muslim community and parents" he says.

Activists, however, say it is not about shaming any particular community but moral policing and subversion of the law by a law-enforcing authority. They say if policemen start devising their own law plan and enforcement mechanism, then there is no need for Constitution, Parliament or a legislature to make laws.

Despite the video having sent shock waves, the Hyderabad police so far has chosen not to comment. Senior officers admit the actions of the inspector cannot be justified but they also point out that policing and ensuring safety of women in secluded places remains a challenge. They also say while cases cannot be booked for couples hanging around together, the police becomes answerable when an untoward incident like a rape happens.

A retired DGP, however, says senior police officers need to show the way and guide their juniors on what is acceptable and what is not. "The law-enforcing officer himself cannot either break the law or make the law and justify saying that he is doing it for the larger good. He is not above the law. What is required is training to sensitise the officers," he said.