Confession Of A Victim Of Moral Policing

Posted by Neha Tripathi in Society
January 4, 2018

It has taken me almost a month to gather the strength to write about an incident of harassment that happened with me and my male friend in the name of moral policing. Before I start I want to be clear on some points:

  1. My aim is not to defame the police
  2. Please read this with an open mind
  3. I wish this brings out a positive attitudinal change among policemen across the country

This incident happened on November 28, 2017. My friend and I were sitting in a public park around 7 pm. At 7:30 pm, two policemen came and asked what we were doing in the park, late at night. We told them that we were just sitting and that it’s just 7:30. 

They told us that the park closes at 6 pm and that we were not allowed to sit in the park at all. We apologised and told them that we’ll leave. However, instead of letting us go, they asked us for our personal details. I kept asking them about what we’d done and why we were being investigated. One of the policemen flipped when I told him that we weren’t doing anything and that we didn’t know that the closing time was 6 pm. The man asked me to shut up and told me how Nirbhaya was raped and murdered. He told me about how the police is always held responsible when anything happens to a woman.

I told him that I understood that the police becomes a soft target and that it isn’t possible for the police to be everywhere. I asked him what’s the point of telling me Nirbhaya’s story since it made me feel very uncomfortable. He didn’t talk to me after that.

After some time, this policeman asked me to call my parents. I asked him why and his answer was simple,“Why should I tell you, don’t you know already?” I called my mother and he humiliated her by suggesting to her that if her daughter wants to meet a guy, then she should ask her to book a hotel room.

He called my mother twice. The first time she couldn’t pick his call and I told him she must be busy at home because of the demise of a very close relative of ours. But he didn’t care at all. He called again, but this time the call did not connect and after a few minutes my mother called back. He humiliated my mother even though my mother made it very clear that I had known this boy for many years. After the call ended, he said I could leave but he won’t let the guy go. I said I won’t leave without him no matter what. He started threatening me that he’d call the woman cop and for the last time I asked him why? He had no answer.

The very next moment these policemen asked me to leave and took my friend on a bike forcefully and instead of going to the police station (as they claimed my friend would be taken to), they stopped midway. They asked him to get off the bike and call his father. They threatened him that they were going to arrest him, and only leave him when his father will come to the police station. When my friend requested the policeman not to involve his parents in this, they threatened that they would visit his home.

One of the policemen talked to him in a very harsh tone. When he refused to call his parents, then they asked him to call any of his friends or acquaintances to sign on some documents which they didn’t show or mention before. He didn’t even have anything to prove his identity at the time. Finally, when he showed his empty pockets, they talked to his sister who also insisted on asking what he was accused of and again, the police had no concrete answer. The policemen simply said that they would let him go. 

I want to draw attention to the following points:

  1. If the park closed at 6 pm, then why were we being held and not others in the same park? His constant reminder of how I could have had been raped is alarming and is indicative of how even the police believes that rape is the result of where and how the woman is, concluding that it is the woman who’s responsible for getting raped and nothing else. The policeman talked to my mother, but then why did he not simply tell her what my friend and I were doing? Why did he have to make it sound like I was doing something wrong?
  2. It’s interesting how the policeman exaggerated time, calling 7:30 pm as 9 pm and then 10 pm. He did not answer a single question we asked. He insensitively approached me like I was a rape survivor and he was a saviour for a woman like me. He kept on threatening to take me to the police station, even though the male cop is not allowed to take a woman after 6 pm in the evening with or without a lady constable unless the crime committed is of absolutely serious nature. (In this case one can assume that staying in a park in the evening is worse than murder I guess!)
  3. It’s important to note how they first accused us of being inside the park past the closing time and later one of the policemen talked to me about rape! They should have had at least stayed with one cooked up story, but I guess when one has no real reason then they just keep on losing their temper and path.
  4. On one hand, the police claims shortage of human resources to deal with serious issues of women safety, terrorism, murders, robbery and on the other hand a few of their men are making calls to my parents for taking a stroll in the evening. Interesting and laughable.

With this post, I have only one request – to make the police sensitive to what their actions can do to a person. I have the policeman’s number and his bike number, a video of him taking away my friend on a bike. But as I mentioned in the beginning, my aim is just to put forward the point that what happened to me was wrong, and it should not be repeated again in the future. Also, I would like to leave you all with this: The whole incident caused me unpleasantness and temporary annoyance, but who knows, it could have had some serious consequences as well.