Piyush Srivastava, TT, Lucknow, April 13: A mob of alleged BJP and VHP workers was accused of using physical force on a woman and thrashing her fiancé and his younger brother in Meerut city last night, first in the street and later inside a police station.
Police denied any beating in front of them but acknowledged locking up the brothers when "some BJP workers" brought them to the police station and accused them of "eve-teasing" on the streets.
Sangh parivar vigilantes and police working together to harass couples has become common since chief minister Yogi Adityanath asked the force to form an "anti-Romeo squad" to curb sexual harassment on the streets.
It appears the group had been prowling the streets last night looking out for couples when they saw the woman riding pillion on Harish Rana's scooter.
Harish says he was taking his fiancée home when a mob of "about 50 people" stopped them.
"They caught me by the arm and asked uncomfortable questions. Then they roughed up Harish," the woman, a bank employee, told local journalists today.
"His brother, Avanish, who was following us on another scooter, was roughed up too. The mob took them away and I somehow reached home. But when I came to know they had been beaten up and put inside a lock-up, I went to the police station."
She shouted at the cops for harassing the men "despite a specific instruction from the chief minister that couples shouldn't be harassed".
When both sets of parents too arrived and confirmed that Harish and the woman were engaged to be married, the police released the brothers.
"Some BJP workers had brought two youths, alleging they were eve-teasers. But we realised that it was not true when the woman arrived and lodged a complaint," Dharmendra Kumar, the station house officer at Medical College police station, told reporters.
The police have registered a case against Sagar Singh, Ankit Kumar and Vinod Kumar but not slapped charges of assault or harassment. Instead, they have been booked for "joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse", which carries a fine or a maximum jail sentence of six months. Since the charge is bailable, the accused have not been detained.
"The entire city knows that the attackers were BJP and VHP members. They put us in the lock-up and beat us badly in front of the police," Harish told local reporters.
"But the police booked only three of them, letting off those who were primarily involved in attacking us."
On Tuesday, members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini --- a vigilante group formed by Adityanath 15 years ago --- had barged into a house in Meerut's Shastri Nagar area and roughed up a young Muslim man and a girl belonging to another faith.
Media reports say that BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Vahini workers are "guiding" the police in "identifying street Romeos".
Javeed Ahmad, state director-general of police, has issued three circulars asking his force not to let "private people" harass couples in the name of the "anti-Romeo squad". Adityanath too said last week that couples mustn't be harassed.