Hyderabad: The Hyderabad cops are more into ‘moral policing’ these days, targeting couples spending quiet moments at parks and other public places like the expansive Necklace Road by the side of the Hussainsagar Lake.
Couples out on a walk, or sitting together, or taking a ride on two wheelers or sitting in cars are pulled up and questioned or even interrogated as to why they were together in a public place. The unwritten standard operating procedure on the part of the cops, it is said, is to pocket some money and go their way after the questioning.
“There is no provision for moral policing in the IPC and CrPc and the police cannot punish people,” said Tito George, a resident of Bolarum who was pulled up and harassed at Durgam Cheruvu while he was sitting with his girlfriend the other day.
“I had to spare my girlfriend from the embarrassment of being questioned. So I took the constable away and paid him Rs1,200 that was in my pocket. The worst part is that the cops pull out their phones to take photos. This is embarrassing for females,” he said.
The Necklace Road stretch, popular among couples, frequently see such offensives from cops. “It was around September 2019 and we had gone out in a group from out college. Me and another friend were standing away from our group and talking by the side of the park. Two constables, both men, approached and asked us to go with them to the police station. Our friends intervened and requested the cops to leave us alone. I have no idea what would have happened if our friends did not intervene,” said Aarti Sen, a 24-year-old from Bowenpally.
Officials from the Lake Police station said the constables and patrolmen are ordered to question students and minors. “We asked the staff to bring students and minors to the police station. We contact their families and inform them about their children. Adult couples are questioned as the association could be an illicit one. Such questioning will put fear in the minds of such people,” said Dhanalaxmi, Inspector of Lake Police.
Asked about cops taking photos, she said, “They are ordered to take photos from a distance if and when a couple is seen behaving in any indecent manner, and then question them. The photos will act as proof. Otherwise, we will be accused of pulling up the couples without any reason and for the heck of a bribe,” she said.
Young citizens are not satisfied with such explanations from the cops. They say women police officers are rarely present during such questioning. “This is unlawful. Visiting parks and other public spaces is not a crime. Cops never specify on what charges we are being pulled up. They simply say that we are not allowed here and start questioning our ‘motive’ for visiting a public place. What can we possibly say to that,” said Shruti Rao, an employee with a private firm, who was a victim of such questioning by cops at Manikonda near Khajaguda lake some time ago.