Mumbai: Police from the Malwani area of Mumbai apparently felt crime was low yesterday, since they decided to occupy most of their day with moral policing. Raiding various hotels in Madh Island and Aksa, they arrested consenting adult couples who had rented rooms there and proceeded to charge them with 'Indecent behaviour in public' and some were even registered under the 'Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act', a law intended to curb prostitution.
Around 40 couples were rounded up and detained for some five to ten hours, eventually let go after paying a Rs. 1200 fine and plenty of humiliation.
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Even though none of the arrested couples were engaging in prostitution or were minors, police constables slapped and roughed them up, and even made several of them call their parents for some reason.
The experience was traumatising for the couples, one of whom told Mid-Day that she was contemplating suicide from the humiliation of being forced to call her parents for the 'crime'.
Speaking to Mid-Day, another 21-year-old female said -
"I am not a prostitute. I am an adult who was out with my fiance, 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. But, when I tried to tell a female constable all of this, she slapped me...Do we have freedom as citizens of India? How can you fine and demean us and intrude into our privacy. If you want to take legal action, fine the hotels or lodges if any of them allow immoral activities like prostitution to go on in their premises. You can't just harass us because a DCP orders a raid,"
That DCP is Deputy Commissioner (Zone XI) Vikram Deshpande, who apparently ordered the raid, though when contacted by the media he promptly asked them to speak to the inspector from the Malwani police station, one Milind Khetale - who only confirmed that the raid had happened.
In an interesting example of how police resources are being used, Mid-Day also pointed out that while the police of the station were busy in their moral raid, a chain snatcher held a knife to a woman's throat and stole her necklace near the police station itself, a crime that the police neither prevented nor solved.
The Malwani police station was last in the news in June, 2015 after eight of its members, including the senior inspector, were suspended after 100 people died consuming illegal liquor brewed in their jurisdiction, another crime which the police station neither stopped or curbed.