Cops turn moral police in Madurai: Round up adult couples from park, call their parents

The incident happened in Rajaji park, which is a popular hangout spot for children, on Sunday.
Cops turn moral police in Madurai: Round up adult couples from park, call their parents
Cops turn moral police in Madurai: Round up adult couples from park, call their parents
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On Sunday, drama unfolded at the Rajaji children’s park in Tallakulam, Madurai, as the district police picked up 12 couples – all adults – for causing ‘public nuisance’.

Madurai Rajaji children’s park sees anywhere between 500 and 1,500 visitors on weekends, since it is the only children’s park of this size, at least within the Madurai city limits. The park has a lot of playground equipment and a huge expanse of open space suitable for children aged between three years and 10 years. The park is a popular hangout spot in the city for people from all walks of life and all ages, and a popular place for schools to bring students on field trips.  

On February 3, a police van stopped outside the park and the police rounded up 12 men and women for ‘behaving in an indecent manner’ inside the park. The couples were then taken to the Tallakulam police station. While no cases were registered on any of the young men and women who were brought to the police station, the police decided to call the parents of these adults to moral police them.

A police officer at the station told TNM that they had rounded up the couples following phone calls from parents who were at the park. “People called and complained to us that they were behaving in a sexual manner near bushes and other secluded places in the park. Since it is a children’s park, the parents were worried that it poses danger to the other kids,” the officer said.

The police called the parents of the couples, and obtained a written undertaking from them, promising that their kin will not repeat the behaviour. The police officer justified this action, and said that those couples who were sitting on the benches in the park in public view were not taken to the station. “We picked up only those who were found in a compromising position, in secluded portions inside the park,” he stated.

Delving into the legality of the actions of the police in this case, human rights lawyer Sudha Ramalingam said that this was a clear case of moral policing. “Anybody has the right to assemble wherever they want. Calling their parents for this is clearly illegal and constitutes moral policing,” she said. Adding that if the police got complaints from parents in the park, they could have just gone to the park and dispersed the couples, “What is the need to bring them to the station, and worse, call their parents and get a letter from them?” she asked. “These couples are above 18 years of age and they have the right to do what they want,” she said.

“The police which is supposed to act in a balanced manner, as a force and as a service, is now acting only as a force,” she said.

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