The police had dragged out couples from hotels and taken them to a police station (photo: NDTV)
The police in India’s financial capital have not exactly covered themselves with glory with their recent moral policing raids. First the Mumbai Police booked several couples for alleged indecent behaviour after knocking on hotel rooms and carting them away to the police station. Following a public outcry over the way consenting adults were rounded up and “humiliated”, the police decided to order an inquiry.
But the officer leading the inquiry found himself transferred out of Mumbai on a ‘punishment posting’ on Thursday. Then, barely 24 hours later, the state government cancelled his transfer. Does anyone in charge look like they know what they are doing?
The transfer of Additional Commissioner Fatesingh Patil to Nanded, 600 km from Mumbai, was reportedly reversed on Friday after a security review of Mumbai by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
There was media speculation that Patil’s sudden transfer may have followed the moral policing raids on hotels in the city's Madh Island and Aksa area.
Police commissioner Rakesh Maria had assigned Patil the task of probing the incident. He was to submit his report by Friday evening, but he informed Maria that the inquiry would not be completed before August 22 as many of the victims were out of town due to the long weekend.
On August 6, the police had dragged out over 60 people from hotels and taken them to a police station, where they were allegedly insulted and detained for hours, with some even being made to call their parents, according to Mid-Day.
The report said although they were inside hotel rooms, thirteen couples were charged with “indecent behaviour in public” and fined Rs 1,200 before being let off nearly five hours later. One young woman alleged that she was slapped by a woman constable when she refused to pay the fine.
“I am literally contemplating ending my life because of the trauma and the stigma from the raid. I haven’t been able to step out of the house and my parents have also not spoken a single word to me since this morning,” a 19-year-old girl told Mid-Day.
“I am not a prostitute. I am an adult who was out with my fiancé, who I am supposed to marry next month, to find some privacy. I had entered my name in the hotel register with my identity proof and also handed over the relevant documents when asked by the cops,” she told the newspaper.
Mira Kamdar, a journalist with The New York Times, tweeted: "How can conduct in a private room be a public offense? Morality policing goes off rails in India."
Hotel staff alleged that the policemen conducting the raids said they were following orders from their seniors, particularly DCP Vikram Deshpande.
The police claim they were acting on an “unverified” tip-off that “prostitution-like activities” were taking place at the hotels.
Maria asked for a detailed report after a preliminary one did not give adequate details.