Thursday, December 22

Love in ‘majnu’ land.

The front page of Times of India today attracts you with its headline - Outrage over ‘khaki Taliban’. The story talks about ‘Operation Majnu’, aimed at breaking up frolicking couples in parks, a drive against obscenity launched by the Meerut police. According to the report certain television reports showed women cops bullying and punching women who were apparently involved in ‘obscenity’ by being in a park with a male counterpart! (Just look at the name- Operation Majnu – on one had you glorify him for being a lover beyond compare and on the other malign him by conducting such operations!)

The story and the act are certainly infuriating as once again the moral brigade has come into play. The only fault of those women was that they were in a park with a male. For all you know he could have been the woman’s brother, father, cousin ……… whatever. Infact one of the assaulted woman told reporters that she was sitting in the park with her brother after having met with her advocate for a case against her husband for cruelty! Can the woman expect justice for cruelty by her husband if the law enforcers are themselves so brutal? Now even if it were a couple of lovers, how does it give the police any right to physically assault them? Since when has ‘visiting a park with a male counterpart’ become synonymous with ‘indulging in obscenity’? Does being police give the cops the right to decide and accordingly impose restrictions and punishments for ‘obscenity’? And basically how do you define ‘obscenity’? Taking a stroll, sitting on a bench, chatting, laughing, holding hands, kissing, making out…. how and where do you draw the defining line?

I remember the time in college when the Shiva Sena- VHP moral brigade had come down with full force on the Valentine’s Day celebrations. A friend of mine had the misfortune to be born on the day and he entered college carrying a bouquet of flowers that his friends had given him. But the ‘moral police’ thought he was out to gift it to a girl and celebrate and ‘abuse Indian culture’ and so they tore the flowers away from him and abused and insulted him! Poor guy was almost in tears- his last birthday in college had been brutally ruined!

I am no great supporter of ‘public display of love and affection’ but neither does it mean that it gives me the right to go around physically assaulting a boy and a girl just because they are together. It is for the couple to impose self restrictions and what others can possibly do is advise them to keep their hands off each other in public. Whether they do it or not is their concern. I do get pissed off by seeing couples kissing on road sides and parks, where hundreds of passersby gape at them and pass indecent remarks, where impressionable children stare and wonder. More so because I think the reactions of the onlookers insult the very pristine emotion of love.

I agree that it is necessary to keep a check, for eve-teasing and rapes are not a novelty. The police should however keep their senses intact and check and verify before lashing out at the persons involved. For all they know the couple might be just breaking up forever, fighting emotions and not about to make out. It is a truth that couples need their privacy and special moments and we need to trust the sanity and sense of responsibility of couples before taking any drastic actions.

What happened in Merrut was a disgrace to the country that dreams of being a significant international player and boosts of a rich culture, thousands of years old. It shows our narrow mindedness which can see nothing beyond ‘obscenity’ in the interaction of individuals of opposite sexes. We need to grow up as a society and come to appreciate the complexity and beauty of relationships of the two sexes that is also necessary for overall harmony.


flotsam jetsam said...

those who stand silently watching a crime are as big a criminal. If nothing can be done physically, we can atleast protest in other manners by coming out against such activities. the idea of intolerance that we are building up is going to consume everyone oneday, not least the people who support them like scores of BJP & bajrang dal sympathisers and other such 'moral guardians'. we have for long stood limply wathing them. who knows tomorrow they may decide on some other stupid moral code for citizens and then some more. the point is where does it all stop. Time to put an end to such nonsense. no matter whether you agree with what the couples were up to, you got to agree that there is alaw of the land. and we accuse taliban. BTW tey also ended up alienating the same people they claimed to represent.

Anat said...

how would you have reacted if you had been bullied by that b*tch of a policewoman?
I dont know what i'd have done, but a couple of my female friends say that they'd have slapped back to protect their dignity and freedom.

vin said...

I feel the media people are equally responsible for flashing the faces of the victims on national television...It is one thing to be beaten up in "private" and its a totally another to be flashed on national tele..Now its the same media taking a holier than thou stance over the issue!

Indian said...

I think you have the answers with you.


I do get pissed off by seeing couples kissing on road sides and parks, where hundreds of passersby gape at them and pass indecent remarks, where impressionable children stare and wonder. More so because I think the reactions of the onlookers insult the very pristine emotion of love.


when self-restriction does not come forward, a deterrent need to be worked out. I think this is 200% right.

Vulgarising the public space in such a most over-populated and poorest State is OUTRAGEOUS. That State is an embodiment of social inequality.

The response from the westernised, elitist and snobbery media and people is no surprise either.

green said...

For once I won't argue whether tye were doing something indecent or not. But when did they change the law in India that police can give punishment ? If they are wrong, then book them and produce before a magistrate in 24 hours? police does not have right to beat anyone. I think some strong punishment should be given to those policewoman to act as a deterrent. Police is not there to dispense reward or retribution. They are just damn police.

donthecat said...

Actually I would love to see on TV a particular set of 11 folks being beaten up by these cops.

Nopes, these cops dont have the guts to beat up our MPs who dont have morals, values or any sorta ethics.

Indian> your handle and your attiude dont seem to match

Ameet said...

Dear Manasi

Appreciate your speaking out on this issue. However, I would urge you to go back and read some of your own words. Specially the lines pointed out by "indian".

We all have a "comfort zone". Anytime we see or experience anything outside this comfort zone the natural instinct is to be "pissed off". This is the root cause of all bigotry and intolerance, be it about public displays of affection, cultures or religions. Personal growth comes with recognizing our own comfort zone and reacting with respect and tolerance for those that do not think like us. Without this, our world would turn into a homogenous Orwellian nightmare.

Granted there are social norms that we must adhere to. However, do recognize that these norms change with time. For example, had you been born a hundred years ago, it might've been scandalous for you to leave your home, as a woman, even for a little while. You would neither be reading news, nor writing blogs. People would be "pissed off" seeing you do such things. See what I mean?

Instead, when we see a couple kissing in the park, let's put a smile on our faces and be happy for the love they share. Let's feel sorry for the ignorance of those that heckle them - rather than blame the couple. Let's teach our children about love and tolerance. Let's stop giving incompetent cops and politicians the fodder they need to fuel such injustice.

Manasi said...

flotsam jetsam: Hey thanks! You are the first one to place a comment on my brand new blog and I really appreciate it.
What you say is right. It is really high time we put an end to this nonsense.

anat: of course I would have kicked the lady and slapped her real hard if she had done that to me. I am in no way supporting what those cops did.

vin: It is an unsaid norm in the media that victims of rape and such other inhuman acts will not be disclosed to the public. Though showing the faces of the 'victims' in this case is not comarable to the other ones, i agree that the media should have atleast blurred their faces. It must be really insulting to be flashed across so on the TV.

indian: I think it is after all a matter of individual freedom and personal choice what couples do. Deterrence in the form of physical punishment is definately not acceptable. Setting down guidelines is the most that can be agreeable.

green: You must have read that the chief of police said that 'strict action will be taken against those lady police"! Though I doubt how strict and if any action at all would be taken against them.

donthecat: you said it perfect! Call me if you plan to beat some of those 11 up!

Ameet: I agree with your point about the comfort zone. I do not intend to say that we guard our comfort zones and never grow up and let intolerance breed. All I say is lets be moderate. I can appreciate the love that a kiss conveys, but at the same time i sincerely feel that it ought to be a personal matter for the couple. Though of course this does not mean that whenever i see such couples I get down to assualting them or passing judgements against them. I walk away from the scene. I let them be. But at the same time it would be nice if the couples choose places which are less crowded or less visited by the general public. There always are corners and sections in parks where couples meet and others generally avoid visiting those parts to allow the couples their privacy.
All I wish to say is that just as you want others to respect the zone of those couples, so should they respect that of the others. Each has to step down a bit to make room for all.

Anat said...

yup i know u arent supporting the police action, and it makes me real angry everytime i see those images on screen, i was just trying to get a hang of how people wud have reacted, coz I know it cud have been me there just as easily.....

American Cappucino said...

I can understand the points made here by various posters. I'd like to give my opinion, being an American who has resided in India for quite some time and adjusted herself to the ground realities of the customs and cultures there.

Having stayed mostly in conservative small town areas, you can imagine my shock when I first went to Bombay and saw people openly kissing on the rocks by the sea come evening time. I never saw that growing up in America. Yeah, I saw people kissing goodbye in the airports, thats about it. "Making out" usually took place in cars in houses, not out in open public spaces. Even at parties couples who wanted to get their groove on would go to a bedroom upstairs. Anyway, I dealt with it.

Returning back to my small town scenario I felt something was wrong with the way people there talked rudely about couples who even simply held hands while walking down the street. Where did I feel more comfortable as a "gori videsi"? In a small town where all eyes were on me whenever I went to buy lemons or in a more modern place where eyes were gazing at their lover's face rather than at me, a self conscious stranger? Definetly the latter. Quite frankly, I feel happy now when I see couples expressing affection for each other in India. The world is full of hate, war, conflict.... it's refreshing to see the opposite being expressed sometimes. Refreshing and inspiriing. I've seen that most of the people who oppose a little public kiss or hug here and there between (mostly young) couples in India, are people who are frustrated in their own personal lives and feel jealous that they aren't "getting any", as we say in USA. When I come into an area of India where consensual touching between opposite genders is the norm, I feel comfortable. Here is a place where consensual touching is going on and therefore I am less likely to be pinched on my ass by some guy walking by who never "got any".

The big problem with Operation Majnu and the attitude it represents is that the line between consent and non-consent has been blurred. If law enforcers are going to criminalize a consensual act of romance, whether it be talking closely, hand holding or whatever, then doesn't that make women who are consenting the criminal and take away the focus on actual criminals - men who are rapists and sexual harrassers? It's like saying the only way a woman is innocent in an act of sexuality is if she doesn't want it. That makes a woman who wants sex non-innocent or "characterless". This is an attitude which I found prevelant in the small conservative towns of India in which I resided. The people were not at all comfortable with genuine female sexuality. I think even in marraige the husbands just expected their wives to lay back and "take it", if you know what I mean.