In its UP manifesto, the BJP promised ‘Anti-Romeo Squads’ at police stations near colleges to “check eve-teasing”. Shubhi Rathore is a BA first year student at Agra’s Baikunthi Devi Girls College, situated barely a kilometre from a Mahila Thana (women’s police station). She is also ‘deputy proctor’ at her college.
1. Have you ever faced harassment outside college?
Though not physical harassment, but yes, lewd comments are very common in Agra. A guy even followed me once. But I could never gather the courage to tell my father. None of us four sisters is very open with papa. He is strict and would overreact. Policewale hain to aur bhi garam dimag ke hain (Because he is a policeman, he is even more hot-headed. Her father Lakhan Singh Rathore is a sub-inspector at Tajganj Police Station). My friends and I sometimes call the Cobra police and women’s police station for help. They come on time as the police station is nearby, though I’m not sure if they reach other places as quickly.
2. Would an Anti-Romeo Squad, as promised by the BJP, help?
I heard about it on TV. It’s good that the party thought about this issue… I was at a co-ed school and the situation there was no different. I feel safer in a women’s college.
3. The SP government too launched schemes such as ‘Power Angels’ and the 109 helpline, to help women.
While I have never called 109, my friends tell me it’s good. Power Angels, however, was all rubbish. They circulated forms at my school, St George’s College, for girls who wanted to join as a ‘Power Angel’, but no one ever turned up to collect the forms. Sach kahun to ye sab bekar ki baatein hain. Chunav ke baad sab hawa (Frankly, this is all useless talk. After polls, they will all disappear). My English teacher told me the SP government also had a ‘Jaago’ scheme to give physical training to girls, but it remained on paper.
4. BJP leader Sunil Bharala said Anti-Romeo Squads would help fight love jihad.
I have read this word in newspapers many times, but I’m not sure what it means exactly. It’s foolish to think it is so easy to lure a girl if she doesn’t want it. So many students complain to me about girls talking on the phone with their boyfriends in the college (phones are banned in the college, which also has a dress code)… If a girl doesn’t want it, no one can do any jihad with her.
5. Will you go out to vote this election?
Papa is on duty on election day. Mummy polling booth le jaane ko taiyar huin to hum bhi pehli baar vote daalne jayenge (If mummy agrees to take me to the polling booth, I will vote for the first time). My mother has never voted and my sisters are not interested. I will vote for the BJP; I like the party.