Goa safe from moral cop Muthalik, but why should rest of India suffer?

SANDIP ROY/FIRSTPOST.COM | 01 September 2015 21:08 IST

Two swallows do not a summer make by any means but it seems some of the highest authorities are taking notice of the menace of moral policing. And it’s about time.

The Supreme Court told Pramod Muthalik of the Sri Ram Sene “What do you think? You can beat up women and others in the name of moral policing?”

Muthalik was challenging an order dating back to August 2014 that barred his entry into Goa on the grounds of maintaining peace and tranquility. The Supreme Court said the ban was justified. Muthalik and his merry men were famous for barging into a Mangalore pub and beating up youngsters for drinking and partying.

A little while earlier Mumbai’s Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria told his force that the Mumbai police should steer clear of moral policing. Reacting to the furore over the cops breaking into rooms in Madh Island, Maria said, “The police do not have any right to interfere in the personal independence of citizens.” In a strongly worded letter titled, “Regarding improper conduct from the police at public spaces”, Maria told his force, “It has come to light that police officers and policemen, without any reason, make inquiries with girls, boys, women, men, who come to malls, the seaside, gardens, hotels and other public places. It has also come to light that policemen enter closed hotel rooms and flats and take action on couples under the Maharashtra Police Act.”

A point to note is that even back in 2014, Rakesh Maria had said basically the same thing. At that time four policemen had accosted a twenty-something couple who were sitting with one’s arm around the other’s waist outside a mall in Goregaon. They were charged under the Bombay Police Act and fined for “indecent behaviour.” NDTV reported that Maria issued a press note saying cops do not support moral policing and eve-teasing squads were meant to catch goons who harass and molest women on the streets, not go after a woman with her arm around her boyfriend’s waist. The press note said a sensitization and training workshop would be held in September 2014.

Whatever happened at that workshop clearly did not percolate to the police station involved in the Madh-Marve raids.

That’s the inherent problem with moral policing because somewhere deep inside there is a sense those being policed deserve it because of the clothes they wear, the company they keep, the “good times” they might be having.

Even with the Supreme Court order regarding Muthalik, it’s worth noting that it’s really about him and his cohorts not being allowed to enter Goa. That was what the court was being asked to rule on, not the core issue of moral policing itself. Muthalik had contested his ban on the grounds that it violated his right to freedom of movement within India, but the court said it was justified.

“What are you doing in Mangalore?” asked Chief Justice Dattu according to a news report. “You are doing moral policing.” The court made its disapproval clear but it was not ruling on moral policing.

Of course, it does not mean that moral policing should be tolerated in Mangalore, just not on the beaches of Goa. Hopefully what the Muthaliks of the world should take away from the verdict is the court is taking a dim view of their antics .

  • Moral policing happens all over the world (hello Taliban, anyone?) but the term “moral policing” is one of those peculiarly Indian phrases like eve-teasing. It almost sounds benign, if a little officiously parental, like an overzealous guardian. But most of the time it is vigilantism, plain and simple. Its targets have included Valentines Day, art shows, courting couples, coffee shops, pubs, skirt lengths. And in a country prone to be offended the list of targets keeps growing.

 

The problem is at some level, deep inside, the moral police feel sanctimoniously justified about their violent righteousness. In the aftermath of the Madh Island raids, some defended it saying in fact many locals had problems with prostitution and drinking in the area. But two wrongs can never make a right. The suspicion of trafficking and prostitution does not mean the privacy of consenting adults inside a hotel room can go for a toss. And the couples can be harassed afterwards because while what they were doing was not illegal, it was regarded “immoral”.

The police, as Rakesh Maria is trying to remind them, need to focus on what is illegal rather than the fuzzy contours of what they might consider immoral. Policing without the moral part. And the Shri Ram Sene need to get out of the business of moral policing altogether. If it offends them that women might drink in a pub they should not go there.

But that intrinsic thuggishness will not be eradicated easily because the inner bully is often itching to get out. When you hear the latest political sensation, Hardik Patel give interviews you can see that cocky bully as well, completely sure in his opinions and rigidly intolerant in his world views. Asked by Rahul Kanwal about carrying a self-loading rife, young Patel was nonchalant. He needed it for self-defence against goondas he said completely unaware that to some he might come across as one himself. Why just a gun, if he could register an AK-47 he would carry that. Is mein badi baat kya hain (What’s the big deal?). What’s the point of having laws then asked Kanwal if each person could be judge, police and executioner.

That is what moral police is in the end – an extra-judicial judge/police/enforcer. The court has put Muthalik and his Sri Ram Sene in its place. But in the long run its moral policing should not have a place anywhere at all.

Original Report

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Previous Comments

person like mutalik n his sena shyud b ban not only in goa , in entire world. no one can hold anybody's freedom

- janesh, ponda | 02 nd September 2015 11:17

 

Pramod Muthalik of the Sri Ram Sene is Sick and the BJP will be extinguished soon...

Why every one wants to come to Goa and destroy it ?

Pramod Muthalik and Sri Ram Sene please go to Pakistan and or to Russia...

Chief Justice Dattu and Mumbai’s Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria are True Human beings-Almighty God Bless them and others...

To protect Goa and India we need True Human beings like Chief Justice Dattu and Mumbai’s Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria and others...

Only Divine intervention can Save Goa and India...

Goans and Indians all over the Universe Pray Pray Pray to save Goa and India...

Long Live Goa and India.

- Jose Cunha, GOA(UK) | 02 nd September 2015 06:10

 

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