Mumbai, Nov. 20: Round I has gone to the lovers in their battle with Mumbai police.
Intervening in the spat between crusaders of romance and keepers of morality, police chief M.N. Singh today said hugging and kissing around the rocks of Bandstand was okay, but “please be careful if passion pushes you further than that”.
Playing both referee and mediator, Singh, however, made it clear that young lovers should take care not to pose inconveniences for Bandra’s children and elderly persons.
“Nobody is after anyone here,’’ he said.
“But we must also see to it that no passerby is embarrassed by very public displays of love and affection.’’
The police, taking action against “obscenity in public”, had rounded up at least 50 couples in Bandstand and fined 30 of them Rs 1,250 each as they were “found guilty of obscenity”.
The couples were booked under Section 110 of the Bombay Police Act which says “no person shall wilfully and indecently expose his person in any street or public place or within sight of and in any such manner as to be seen from within any street or public place”.
In what has come as respite for lovers, the police chief said his force had never intended to be “harsh’’ on them.
So, instead of the police chasing couples and bundling them up without notice, they will now instal signboards at and around Bandstand that will spell out the dos and don’ts of public behaviour for lovers.
The signboards, which will be up soon, will instruct couples exactly how far they can go. “There would be clear instructions on what can be done and what cannot,’’ said a police officer in Bandra.
The police chief is said to have already directed his staff to get on with the job of putting up the boards in “clear, well-defined language’’.
Confirming the police chief’s orders, DCP Bipin Kumar, said the code of conduct for lovers would soon be in place.
But he justified the earlier police action, saying the men in khaki didn’t play spoilsport but acted only after Bandra residents complained of lovers “overstepping their limits’’.
However, many Bandra residents had immediately contested the police claim and said there had been no complaints by the Bandstand Residents’ Association.
Also, soon after the police clampdown on couples, many of who turned out to be either engaged or married, there was an air of defiance around Bandstand.
Many couples said a day after the arrests that it would take much more than that to keep them away from their favourite haunt.