Thiruvananthapuram, July 21 (BPNS)
An alleged moral policing incident and students’ befitting reply to it has become the talk of the town. The central character of the incident was a bus stop near the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram. The students in protest against the alleged moral policing act – as a long steel bench got cut into three pieces to avoid boys and girls sitting together – have responded with a ‘sit-on-lap’ protest.
The novel protest that has now won accolades from various quarters of the society including from the state government also persuaded the city corporation to promise the construction of a new bus stop and that too a gender-neutral one.
Mayor Arya Rajendran, who visited the bus stop on Thursday told reporters here that the act of cutting the bench into three pieces was inappropriate and unbecoming of a progressive society. She also added that there is no ban in the state on boys and girls sitting together.
“Those who are irked with such acts might be living in ancient times. The students’ response has given much hope. It shows that there is a responsive generation. The local authorities are with the students,” said Arya.
The mayor later promised the students that as the current bus stop is dilapidated and unauthorized, as it lacks clearance from the Public Works Department, it will get razed down. In its place, a new bus stop will come which will be a gender-neutral one and with modern facilities.
The youth wing of CPI(M), the ruling party, Democratic Youth Federation of India’s state secretariat, said in a statement that, those who didn’t believe in gender justice and personal liberty is a danger to society.
At the same time, the residents’ association of the area said that they cut the steel bench into three parts to ensure social distancing as Covid-19 cases are spiking.
However, students said that the uncomfortable looks and hush-up comments of locals against them have been there for some time now and it might have reached its boiling point on the other day as some decided to cut the bench into three.
“Some of the locals can’t accept the very sight of boys and girls mingling together. Though we were shocked at first. We decided to provide such so-called vigilantes a fitting reply. That’s how we move to a ‘sit-on-lap’ protest. We sit on each other’s lap and let’s see what happens,” said one of the students who participated in the protest.