An advisory to parents of ‘young boys and girls’ ahead of summer vacations, issued by an officer in Pune Rural Police, has raised several eyebrows. Though the instructions, issued via WhatsApp messages, call for parents to snoop on their sons and daughters to prevent them from eloping, the police officer concerned, Inspector Dayanand Gawade, has denied that it was an act of “moral policing”.
Gawade had sent out the message on WhatsApp, requesting that it should be sent to as many parents as possible to “spread awareness” and to prevent boys and girls from eloping. The message, sent to various groups, soon went viral.
“Schools and colleges are about to close for the holidays. In the last few days, there has been an increase in cases of young boys and girls fleeing from home. The planning done (by them) in the academic year is followed up in the summer break… parents need to take precautions to avoid these incidents, which might lead to serious social issues,” reads the message in Marathi.
“Whenever boys or girls speak on the phone to someone when they are alone… one should be alert about who they are speaking to. Many times, the boys and girls tell their parents that they are going to meet a relative or a friend and then they never return. It’s important that the girl is not sent out alone… she should be accompanied by a family member,” it says. “The parents should keep an eye at the timings at which the boys and girls leave the house (for school) and if they indeed go to school… They should also check if boys and girls return home directly from the school or college, or if they loiter around,” reads the message.
Gawade told The Indian Express that through the message, he was merely asking parents to be cautious. “We don’t mean to get involved in any kind of moral policing on girls. In fact, I have held many sessions in schools where I have taught self defence techniques to girls and tried to counsel them,” he said.
“But when we study such cases, we see a pattern that occurs during summer vacations or exams, which could be because these are periods when a daily routine is not followed… which means parents cannot keep track… Girls could leave the house saying they are visiting a friend and fall prey to such traps. That’s why, as a precautionary measure, we have asked parents to be aware and remain alert,” said Gawade.