Mob culture vs pub and mall culture
Whether it’s the police (usually backed by the state government) or extreme rights groups (encouraged by the state government), and yes even some women’s and students’ groups – they want to interfere in the private lives of people. They are anti the so-called mall, park and pub “culture”, as if this is some sort of culture and not simply places where people go to relax and enjoy. They form mobs and attack and intimidate citizens enjoying themselves and relaxing on beaches, in parks and in pubs. They disrupt fashion shows and movies, and want dancing to be banned. And guess what, they read obscenity even into the most innocuous kisses, like that of Shabana Azmi’s kissing Nelson Mandela (2004) and Richard Gere kissing Shilpa Shetty (2007).
These incidents have been happening for years and one wonders whether they are rapidly increasing in number or are simply being reported more often. What is true however that incidents in major cities are usually reported widely. These are just a few news reports which I came across on the internet:
Pune: 2002 A book lover could not find The Photographic Kama Sutra by Linda Sonntag in bookshops. Then he found out that bookshops were afraid to sell erotica, as they were afraid of the moral police and political pressure as well as litigation.
Aligarh 2004: Girls and boys in cyber cafes were driven out by the police. Even restaurants where female students were lunching with male friends were raided by the police. They were slapped and manhandled.
Rajasthan: 2004 The Bajrang Dal went after an organisation dedicated to the conservation and promotion of folk art and culture in Rajasthan for using posters that allegedly denigrated Hindu deities.
Meerut: 2005 A police operation called Majnu was conducted in which couples sitting in parks were beaten up. The errant policemen were investigated, but only for the “excessive” force they used, no one questioned their right to stop couples sitting in parks.
Punjab: 2006 In a small town here, police beat up a group of students celebrating their XIIth class results at a hotel.
Delhi and J&K: 2006 Hardline Hindu groups and Muslim groups burned Valentine’s Day greeting cards, calling it a “western import that spread immorality”.
Assam: 2006 The moral police checked for “anything indecent” going on in the name of festivities. A vigilante group named ‘Asom Sena‘ (Assam army) formed by the influential All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) threatened “action” against hoteliers and revellers if they indulged in anything “obscene” in the name of musical shows or entertainment during the New Year.
Madhya Pradesh: 2006 Fashion shows were banned in government-run colleges, and the women’s commission felt that there should be a dress code for girls in educational institutions “to control incidents of crime against women.”
Chennai: 2007 The police picked up couples from Marina beach for “indecent behavior in public” and also complained to the parents of all the 22 couples.
Chennai: 2007 There were raids on bars and all those present, whether drinking or not, were arrested by the police. At the police station young boys or girls were given lectures on not to drink and smoke!
Jamshedpur: 2007 Couples were chased out of Jubilee Park by policemen. Then the policemen took bribes to let off these people from jail.
Gujarat: 2007 A post-graduate student of Fine Arts at M S University in Vadodara was arrested for exhibiting his work because as right wing activists were upset over the “erotic” element in his work.
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh: 2007 The moral police, both Hindu and Muslim groups, protested against sex education.
Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab: 2007 The textbooks on sex education watered down to please the moral police, basically right wing groups.
Mysore: 2008 The “moral police” went around Mysore city on New Year’s Eve to prevent organisers from holding celebrations “if they find them against the culture and tradition of the land”. The Bharatiya Janata Party organised five groups, each comprising 15 to 20 people each to “visit hotels, resorts, clubs and community halls here where the New Year eve celebrations were organised to prevent the display of vulgarity and obscenity in the name of celebrations:.
Orissa: 2008 The State Women Commission (SWC) of Orissa launched “Operation Park” to ensure “social discipline” – to stop couples in parks. All this to “protect” young girls who are “deceived by boyfriends.” This Commission’s chairman also believes that “incidents of rape, unwed motherhood and trafficking” will be prevented by this.
The twisted thinking of politicians is evident in this recent statement of the chief minister of Rajasthan (Congress):
Because of this liquor culture, over 6,000 cases of rape were reported in the state when the BJP government was in power. There were incidents of rape against foreign tourists in the state also. We do not want this to happen
So, according to him only drunk men attack and rape women. I wonder what explanation he has for the molestation of women on the streets and buses of India. He also believes that “boys and girls walking hand-in-hand in pubs and malls” is immoral. I guess he feels that if a boy forcibly holds the hand of a girl in a public place, it is more understandable, probably because the girl must have “provoked it” and therefore deserves to be manhandled. When did “Indian” culture become so twisted? Why have we citizens allowed this to happen?
Dance bars were banned in Maharashtra as it was considered a bad thing. But dance bars were a place where the hordes of single men in the city could go and have a good time with girls who were professionals. But I guess government officials feel that it’s better that perverts attack uninterested women…after all it’s the girls’ fault if that happens so the government can wash its hands off the issue!
Muthalik, the accused criminal (he has scores of criminal cases against him) who is the head of the right wing Ram Sene, incited his followers to attack women enjoying themselves at a pub, and also justified the attack, saying that girls and boys should not sit at pubs together. And immediately after the incident, CM of Karnataka said something stupid like Muthalik’s goons should not take the law into their own hands. But since when has going to pubs become against the law? But it might, if the CM has his way. Yesterday he said:
We won’t allow this pub culture in Karnataka to grow
I think we should not allow this moral policing disease to grow. Let’s vote out all politicians who have done moral policing in the past. Vote out the parties who we suspect will ally with the extreme radical parties post-election. And needless to say, vote out criminals as these people are most likely to incite mobs and attack women. Vote in young people as young people are least likely to indulge in moral policing. Vote in people with clean records as these people are less likely to indulge in moral policing and criminal and violent activities.
Related Reading: All posts on Women