In a bid to curb the menace of eve-teasing and harassment of women in public places, the Noida Police has decided to issue “red cards” to offenders as a warning if they are caught in the act. But the warning will be only for first-time offenders, and should they get caught committing the same act a second time, criminal proceedings will be initiated against them.

Officials said on Thursday that the anti-Romeo squads, comprising of both male and female constables, who are dressed in plain clothes and deployed in public places, will serve the “red cards” to offenders.

The squads were constituted to check stalkers and eve-teasers in Uttar Pradesh soon after Yogi Adityanath assumed the office of the chief minister in 2017.

“The ‘red cards’ will be handed out to offenders as a warning and if a person who has been previously issued this card is found indulging in such activities again, criminal proceedings will be initiated against that person,” a police spokesperson said.

They will have details of the offenders like their name, age, address, parents’ information along with the offence for which they have been issued the card like passing lewd remarks, making objectionable gestures at women, among others, he said.

In order to check harassment of girls and women, the Noida Police also plans to reach out to students in schools and colleges and seek their feedback regarding the deployment of the anti-Romeo squads in public places.

The initiative is aimed at making these squads more effective and preventing public nuisance and lewd remarks that are passed on girls by loiterers, the spokesperson said.

He added that a meeting to discuss these measures was held by superintendent of police, Gautam Buddh Nagar (Rural), Vineet Jaiswal, at the Surajpur office on Tuesday.

“The police will also reach out to schools and colleges and interact with principals and teachers. Forms will be distributed to female students for their feedback on deployment of the anti-Romeo squads,” Jaiswal said.

“The forms will include questions like which are the places where girls feel such squads are required — like outside schools, or coaching centres, etc. and action would be taken accordingly,” he said.

On concerns of moral policing and abuse of power by these squads, the SP said the very idea of issuing the “red cards” is to check these two aspects while maintaining law and order.

“The ‘red card’ would serve as a warning, a psychological deterrence to boys and men that you are on police radar now and indulging in eve-teasing or similar nuisance can land you in trouble,” he said.

“Earlier, there have been allegations that couples or in some cases men have been made to do sit-ups or punished in similar fashion by the moral police. But now there will be no coercive action, it is only a preventive measure,” Jaiswal told PTI.

He said earlier there would be situations where couples were troubled by the moral police, but now there are clear instructions not to bother the couples in public places.

“In fact, our squads may ask them if they are being troubled by a third person and help them,” he said.

The Noida Police’s decision to seek feedback from females drew appreciation from the National Commission of Women (NCW).

“A much-needed step taken by Noida Police as police will also distribute feedback forms at schools and colleges, seeking suggestions from women about areas where the presence (of) police is needed. Police will map these areas and deploy teams accordingly,” NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma tweeted.

There are 22 police stations in Gautam Buddh Nagar and all have anti-Romeo squads. These squads comprise two women and male constables each, the officials said.

With Inputs From PTI