Policemen escort suspects, their heads covered in black hoods, as they exit the Shakti Mills compound, the scene of last week’s gang rape of a female photojournalist, in Mumbai yesterday.
MUMBAI: Mumbai’s top policeman has drawn anger in the wake of the gang rape of a young photographer by suggesting that people must choose between a “promiscuous culture” that allows public kissing, or a city made safe by “moral policing”.
Five men have been arrested on allegations of raping the 22-year-old last week in central Mumbai — a case that has outraged the city, which was previously considered one of India’s safest for women.
During a phone-in for viewers on Tuesday over safety concerns, police commissioner Satyapal Singh told the NDTV news channel that a “balance” was needed and that people were “confused” over the kind of society they wanted.
“That is why I’m asking whether on one hand couples should be allowed to kiss in public and on the road, should they be allowed to indulge in obscene things?” he said.
“On the one hand you want to have a promiscuous culture and on the other hand you want a safe and secure environment for the people.”
Mumbai police have come under fire in recent times for so-called “moral policing”, such as raiding bars and restaurants to enforce outdated regulations on drinking and entertainment.
Police in and around the city have also faced criticism for targeting unmarried couples or single women out late instead of potential sexual predators.
In May, the city council proposed banning lingerie-clad mannequin dummies in shops and markets for fear they could encourage sex crime.
“I don’t understand the media and these so-called activists. They start criticising the police on moral policing. Should we do moral policing or immoral policing? I think choice is yours,” Singh said.
The city Mid Day newspaper chided the “faux pas” yesterday, with the headline: “And this man’s job is to protect us!”
The police chief’s comments also angered Mumbai residents on Twitter.
“How will Mumbai’s women be ever safe with a regressive patriarch like Satyapal Singh as Chief of Police?” asked one user.
“It’s the police’s job to ensure a safe/secure environment for people — promiscuity is irrelevant,” said another.
Sex crimes have continued across India despite the national outrage and protests sparked by the fatal gang-rape of another young woman in New Delhi in December. AFP