A recent brawl outside a bar in Guwahati brought to the fore again the mece of anti–social elements masquerading as the moral police. The trouble is said to have begun in the bar itself at Zoo Road, with two girls at the receiving end of a quarrel. Reportedly drunk and confused, they were thrown out by bouncers. Outside, another group of young men accosted the girls and a scuffle ensued. Irate locals then called the police and tried to corner the two girls but one maged to escape. The other girl then fell into the clutches of yet another group of ruffians who had arrived upon the scene. Professing to be outraged at the young woman for her ‘drunkenness and misbehaviour’, it was this group of moral police who did the most damage. They chased down the girl like some wild animal and thrashed her black and blue. Many took the opportunity to touch ippropriately or molest her, while others recorded the scenes of the ‘justice’ being done to her on their mobile phones. The torture continued in full public view until policemen rescued the shell–shocked girl. She later lodged a complaint and the police have made some arrests based on CCTV footage and visuals aired by TV channels. The license of the bar stands temporarily suspended. But this incident has triggered memories of the horrific GS road incident that shamed Guwahati before the entire tion. Sadly, no lessons have been learnt from that incident in July 2012. Bars in the city continue to be dangerous places, their security system rarely geared to protect women customers from rowdy elements. Outside the bars, even greater danger lurks in the form of moral police out to ‘teach errant women a lesson’. Ever on the lookout to victimise women with their violent lust, they justify their actions with the plea that women frequenting bars ‘have bad characters and are asking for trouble’. They are therefore fair game for whatever ‘happens’ to them! The public needs to be alert about the real motives of those who indulge in moral policing, because such malcontents can involve other bystanders in their crimil violation of human rights. The Guwahati city police commissioner has rightly sounded a warning to those who take law into their own hands in the me of moral policing. But his message must pass down to the policemen on the ground — to deal in tough, no–nonsense manner against such hooligans, and keep a close watch on places like bars and pubs they target.
food for thought