LUCKNOW: Honorable CM and respected Members of the UP Cabinet,

We, as representatives of women and youth groups working in UP for around two decades, are writing to you this open letter to raise our deep concern and objection on the formation and functioning of 'Anti-Romeo’ squad as the same is being used openly as a tool by police and vigilantes to harass young boys and girls, men and women. These squads are engaging in vigilantism and scaring women, men and children on the streets of our state. The reports of such harassment are too numerous for us to list in one letter. But we trust you are aware of this.

This is not the route to ensure women’s safety and security. In fact these squads are curbing women’s and girls’ right to mobility, consent and decision making. Boys and men are being harassed, beaten up and humiliated even when they are being with girls with their open consent. These Anti-Romeo squads are indulging in moral policing and deciding which ‘couple’ is acceptable to them, and whose behavior they will sanction. These squads are determining which boys are potential ‘romeos’ and which are not. In the name protection, the squads are now invading private spaces and relationships.

This kind of vigilante moral policing outside the framework of law, and outside the framework of the Constitution on which you Sir, took oath of office, serves only to curb women’s freedom and women’s choices and in turn, is being used to humiliate and disrespect women.

We want to make Uttar Pradesh the safest state in India – safe for all its citizens, women, girls, men, children, young people, Hindu, Muslim, Dalit, Tribals and OBC, indeed for people from all castes, creeds, religious communities, and sexual orientations. We realize, in the present circumstances, this is a long journey.

Mr. Chief Minister, since it is in our name that you have taken actions, endorsed by your Cabinet, that we strongly disagree with. We appreciate that you are concerned for our safety, but we urge you to immediately disband these “Anti-Romeo Squads”.

What we want is for the Police to be accountable to the law and lodge FIRs against vigilantes harassing men and women in the name of 'anti-Romeo’ squads.

What we need is for the Police to treat ALL women with respect and to act proactively on any complaint made by women to ensure their safety and security.

What we demand is immediate disbanding of 'Anti-Romeo’ squad and take stern action against vigilantes and the police who are violating rights of young boys and girls, men and women.

Thank you!

Signatories: Roop Rekha Verma, former Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University; Arundhati Dhuru- National Alliance of People’s Movement Lucknow, Dipta Bhog- women right activist New Delhi, Farha Naqvi- Writer and Social Activist New Delhi, Haseena- Bebak Collective Mumbai, Jashodhara Dasgupta- Women Health Activist New Delhi, Kalpana Khare- Kriya New Delhi, Kaneeja- Lalitpur, Madhavi Kuckreja- Vanangana Karwi Chitrakoot and Sadbhavana Trust Lucknow, Maheshwari- Vanangana Karwi Chitrakoot, Meena- Lalitpur, Malini Ghosh- Social Activist New Delhi, Mamta Singh- Humsafar Lucknow, Meena Soni- Sadbhavana Trust Lucknow, Meera- Khabar Lahariya Editor Karwi Chitrakoot, Neeti Saxena- women's right activist Lucknow, Neetika- Saakar Bareli, Neetu Singh- Humsafar Lucknow, Paulshree Roydas- Women Right Activist Lucknow, Purnima Gupta- Women Right activist, Pushpa- Vanangana Karwi Chitrakoot, Richa Singh- Sangatin Kisan Majdoor Sangathan Sitapur, Rooprekha Verma- Saajhi Duniya Lucknow, Renu Mishra- Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives Lucknow, Shahira Naim- Journalist Lucknow, Sudha- Humsafar Lucknow, Suneeta- Women Health Right Forum Uttar-Pradesh, Shilpi- Saakar Bareli, Shabina- Vanangana Karwi Chitrakoot, Shubhangi- Lucknow, Sarojini- Women Health Right Activist, Talat Ajeez- Social Activist Gorakhpur.