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Sunday, Oct 02, 2022

Kerala engineering students ‘lap up’ opportunity to respond to moral policing

CPI(M)'s youth wing DYFI also reacted to the incident, saying those who try to impose old-fashioned moral concepts and do not believe in gender justice are a danger to society.

bus stand , indian expressIt said that vandalising the bus stand bench to prevent boys and girls from sitting together was offensive and unacceptable. (Source: V Sivankutty/Facebook)

A bus stop bench here reduced to three separate seats as an alleged moral policing measure to prevent girls and boys from sitting together prompted students of both sexes from a nearby engineering college to sit on each others laps and post pictures of the same online.

While Thiruvananthapuram city Mayor Arya S Rajendran appreciated the stand taken by the students, residents of the area said they do not approve of the conduct and behaviour of the CET students inside the bus stand during the day and even late at night.

However, the residents denied that the seats were deliberately separated into three to dissuade the students. The bench was converted into three seats as part of renovating the dilapidated structure and keeping in mind COVID-19 guidelines to maintain social distancing, they claimed.

Rajendran visited the area on Thursday after the photographs posted on social media by the students of College of Engineering Trivandrum (CET) went viral.

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After visiting the area, the Mayor, in a Facebook post, said the manner in which the bench was cut into three seats was not only “inappropriate”, but also “unbecoming of a progressive society” like that of Kerala.

She said that there is no ban on girls and boys sitting together in our state and those who still believe there should be such a prohibition are still living in ancient times.

“One can only sympathise with those who do not understand that times have changed,” she added.

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She also told media present there that residents of the area have a different way of thinking as many of them are old timers.

Engineering students from CET, who were present when the mayor visited, told scribes that this was not the first time they were faced with such a situation.

They face moral policing on a regular basis whenever they are walking around in that area with a friend of the opposite sex.

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“We have been suffering this for a long time and therefore, we decided it was about time we reacted to it. We, of course, never expected the photographs to go viral. We were just attempting to ensure that such moral policing does not occur in future.

“They should understand there is nothing wrong with a boy and girl sitting together,” the students said.

The residents of the area, on the other hand, said that none of them approve of the girls and boys sitting together at the bus stand starting from early morning hours to even late at night.

“This is a bus shelter we built for people to wait for the bus. If they want to sit together, let them do so inside the college campus. We do not approve of their behaviour,” some of the local residents told reporters.

They also said that the bus shelter was built by them years ago and was in a bad state, so they decided to renovate it and as part of the renovation process, the seating arrangement was converted to three separate ones with a gap in between in view of the COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing.

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“Earlier also three people could sit and even now they can. Moreover, the work was hardly over. A lot of work was yet to be done. However, if the local authorities want to build a modern structure, we welcome it wholeheartedly,” they said.

Appreciating the stand taken by the CET students, Rajendran, in her post, said a responsive generation is the hope for the future and the local authorities were with the students in the matter.

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She further said the bus stand was dilapidated, unauthorised and lacking clearance from the Public Works Department and therefore, a new gender neutral one with modern facilities will be built there by the local authorities.

CPI(M)’s youth wing DYFI also reacted to the incident, saying those who try to impose old-fashioned moral concepts and do not believe in gender justice are a danger to society.

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Such people need to realise that the world is changing, the DYFI state secretariat said in a statement and added opposition to freedom of movement and personal liberty under the guise of moral policing will not be accepted.

It said that vandalising the bus stand bench to prevent boys and girls from sitting together was offensive and unacceptable.

First published on: 21-07-2022 at 06:19:48 pm
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