Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Thursday directed officials to put up posters with names and photos of people “involved” in incidents of harassment of women, The Indian Express reported. The chief minister also ordered that the “anti-Romeo squads”, tasked with preventing harassment of women in the state, be further strengthened.
“The chief minister has directed that posters of criminals involved in molesting women, girls and children, misbehaviour and sexual harassment cases be displayed on road intersections and public places, along with the names of those aiding such criminals, so that people come to know about them,” a government statement said. However, the order does not specify if it is meant for accused or for convicts or both.
Adityanath issued the directives after he took cognisance of an incident where two men harassed a Dalit woman on Thursday. The 21-year-old woman was also assaulted by the two men, who have been arrested and booked under charges of molestation, attempt to murder and criminal intimidation.
The statement said that in the case of a crime against women, the official in charge of the police station, the beat in-charge and the circle officer concerned would be held responsible. Further, it said that “such criminals [should] be punished by women police personnel to send a strong message.”
Adityanath also asked the police to work towards preventing crime against women like boosting the “anti-Romeo squads” that have “shown great results and discouraged eve-teasers.”
“To put a stop on incidents of molestation and eve-teasing, the anti-Romeo squads are active in every district,” the statement read. “In a meeting with the home and police department officials, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi said that by taking strict and effective action, a better image of the police will be presented so that women can have increased faith in the department.”
The statement also said that the squads “checked” more than 83 lakh people. On the basis of these reports, cases were registered against 7,351 people, 11,564 were arrested and over 35 lakh people were let off with a warning.
Director General of Police Hitesh Chandra Awasthy, however, said that he has not received a written order from the administration. “I have not yet received any such communication, and once we get it, we will act on it accordingly,” he said. “We have, however, re-issued directions that we have to be very careful about such crimes taking place and have to take strong action against such people. A similar order was issued by me around 20-25 days ago.”
The DGP had issued various directions, including regular patrolling in sensitive areas, installation of CCTV cameras in public places, malls and schools, installing complaint boxes in girl’s colleges and immediate registration of first information reports and making arrests in connection with crimes against women.
The law and order situation in the state has deteriorated, opposition leaders had alleged, after a spate of crime, mostly against women, were reported in the state in August. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi had criticised the state government for failing to ensure the safety of women while Rahul Gandhi said the “jungle raj” of caste-based violence and crimes against women was at its peak under the current dispensation.
In August, a 17-year-old girl was found dead near her house in the state’s Lakhimpur Kheri district. The police said the minor was raped and killed with a sharp weapon. On August 14, a 13-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly raped and murdered in the district. The body of the girl, who was strangled with her tongue allegedly cut, was found in a sugarcane field owned by one of the accused.
However, this is not the first time the state government has tried using “name and shame” posters. In March, the Uttar Pradesh administration put up hoardings at several places in Lucknow city showing the photos, names and addresses of 53 people, who were accused of indulging in violence during the Citizenship Act protests in December last year.