|A boy and a girl take a stroll in the Krishnashayar park on Sunday. Picture by Munshi Muklesur Rahaman
Burdwan, Oct. 7: The Burdwan University vice-chancellor has wielded the “moral police” stick, apparently upset with the public display of affection — better known as PDA — by young couples in the town’s biggest park.
The university, which manages Krishnashayar, has cut down by five hours the park’s timings. The park will now be open from 4pm to 6pm on weekdays, instead of 12pm to 6pm earlier.
The new timings, which have come into effect from October 2, will be suspended on Sundays and holidays.
Sources said Smriti Kumar Sarkar took the decision after he last month found boys and girls hugging in the open in the 100-acre park.
Asked about the move, Sarkar said some residents had complained that college boys and girls who frequented the park “sit so close that it sends wrong signals to children”.
“I went to the park on September 27 to see for myself and I was disturbed at what I saw. The park was built so that Burdwan residents can come there for evening walks and enjoy fresh air. Many people who come to the park with their families and children have objected to the degrading environment there,” Sarkar said.
A varsity official who had accompanied Sarkar said: “The VC was angry. He told me that young boys and girls cosying up and hugging in the open is not exemplary for children.”
According to Sarkar: “I felt disturbed because most of the boys and girls were students of our colleges or schools. I took the decision after talking to some elderly people. They had told me to make the environment at the park healthier. I think if the park timing is cut short on working days, young boys and girls will not frequent there.”
However, other members of the park’s trustee board that include the chairman of the CPM-run Burdwan municipality, Ainul Haque, and the divisional forest officer, Gopal Chandra Kajuri, said they had no clue about the VC’s move.
“I didn’t know anything about this decision,” said Kajuri.
Haque added: “A decision has to be taken in a board meeting. I will ask the VC why he took such a decision on his own.”
Boys and girls at the park questioned such “moral policing” by Sarkar.
“I am a 20-year-old college student and have come to the park with my girlfriend. Is it wrong or illegal? I think what the VC is doing is not correct. He has no right to indulge in this kind of moral policing,” said a boy, when told hugging and sitting too close to one’s partner in the open had sparked objections from residents.
The cutting down of the park timings has also instilled fear among casual workers who felt insecure about their jobs. “We are feeling scared about our jobs as the timings have been reduced. The board may now want to reduce the workforce,” said a worker.
Sarkar, however, ruled out any retrenchment.