Mumbai: Prior to Valentine’s Day, couples visiting the iconic Hanging Gardens have been complaining about moral policing and harassment by police personnel. Couples as well as locals staying in the neighbourhood have complained about police personnel heckling and extorting money from the couples kissing or hugging in the gardens.
As Valentine’s Day is just round the corner and couples all over have already started celebrating Valentine’s week, Hanging Gardens, located at one of the most iconic places of Mumbai, is seeing an increase in the number of couples visiting the park to spend some quality time during this week of love. However, a few of these couples have faced a bad experience during their visit as local police restrict them from getting in any intimate moment with their partner.
Responding to the complaints, The Free Press Journal visited Hanging Gardens on Sunday evening and found a lot of couples spending time on the benches, under the trees as well as lying on the grass.
Hanging Garden has always been one of the favourite spots for couples. During the visit, FPJ also found many tourists exploring the gardens as well as families spending their weekend along with locals on an evening stroll.
"We have seen policemen keeping watch on couples"
The FPJ spoke to some of the couples at the garden about the treatment they have received from the police. While many were visiting the gardens for the first time, those who visited frequently shared their experiences. A young couple from Girgaon said: “We have seen policemen keeping watch on couples. As soon as the couple tries to kiss, they jump out of the bushes and start heckling them. They don’t leave unless the couple pays a fine.”
Another couple from Nariman Point and Charni Road, who visits the garden very frequently due to its proximity, said, “A lot of time we have seen the police restricting the couples from even hugging or holding hands. They warn the couple against doing so and even ask them to leave the garden.”
Kissing and hugging shouldn’t be treated as crime: Local resident
A resident of Malabar Hill had witnessed a similar incident where a policeman had asked a boy to perform sit-ups as he was caught kissing. “Kissing and hugging shouldn’t be treated as a crime. I have seen couples running from the garden as soon as they see policemen. This should not be the case as gardens are meant for people to spend good time with their closed ones. Police act like they have nothing better to do instead of harassing couples.”
The Free Press Journal contacted Udaysingh Shingade, senior inspector, Malabar Hill police station, who refused to comment on the issue but said, “There is no law restricting couples from entering the park together.”