HATHRAS: Mobbed by a group of demure women, Anjula Singh Mahor, turns mateteral as she grabs the microphone to speak on the essence of Yogi government’s much-talked about Anti-Romeo force.
Anti Romeo force is a special police unit that was raised in 2017 by the BJP government to restore faith in civil society after a raft of crimes against women and rape cases during Akhilesh ’s 2012-17 regime.
Anjula has been fielded by BJP in Hathras, a reserved constituency, where a gang-rape incident had triggered outrage in 2020 following her dying declaration.
“I have two daughters. The elder one is a doctor and her husband is a surgeon as well, younger daughter is a law student and my husband is an IRS officer. I have been serving the party for a long time, and our top priority is women’s safety. I want to thank our CM Yogi for bringing laws like love jihad or setting up police force to stop hate crimes or harassment of women. I have taught my two daughters to be self-reliant but to be that in villages, its essential to first have an atmosphere where there’s a fear of law. And that’s what Yogi government is doing with resistance and ridicule from Opposition,” Mahor tells villagers.
As she builds her campaign, the 52-year-old tells the New Indian that if the Opposition parties including Congress and Samajwadi Party had not ridiculed the formation of Anti-Romeo force in 2017, the fear of khaki would have become even more a serious deterrent to rein in the delinquent in the wild West of UP.
She talks about raising her two daughters, one of whom, Sona is a doctor from S N Medical college, and Kaniska, who is pursuing law from RML National University in Lucknow, as fearless and independent but with abilities to fight evils, crimes with strong academic pursuits.
She agrees that 2020 incident was tragic but says that more the Anti-Romeo force would expand its footprint in such volatile regions where rape threats and harassment were perpetuated by flippant remarks by Mulayam Singh Yadav and SP netas like Azam khan on girls. While Yadav had said “boys make mistakes”, Khan had to apologise after Bulandshahr gang-rape in 2017 after he said such incidents are a political conspiracy and not real.
It’s here that Anjula’s daughters pause and join the chorus for strengthening the society with laws like love-jihad.
“Love jihad is a reality in the state and this government has created legislated that is reducing its spread. Its such menace for which I took up a course in law so that I can help understand the need to change existing framework. The Anti-Romeo squad that was launched in 2017, came with intention of protecting women and it’s an effective took against crimes involving more than half of the society,” says Kanishka, Anjula’s daughter.
Anjula’s daughters recall their mother’s career in movies like Wake Up India, TV series Dharm Ki Baat and vernacular film Gaon Ki Gori, all of which were aimed at redefining roles of women breaking the glass ceiling in patriarchal society and issues of graft hurting the society.
“My mother even walked the ramp for fashion designer Sanjana Jon besides working in cinema. She holds a degree in law,” adds Kanishka.
While Priyanka Gandhi may be talking of Ladki Hoo Lad Sakti hoo campaign, she must understand the fight of women in the BJP, whether Sushma Swaraj, Smriti Irani, Vasundhara Raje, began much earlier than such hyphenated phrases and coinages,” says Anjula.
Anjula, who was brought in as a replacement for sitting incumbent MLA Hari Shankar Mahor, says her caste should be close part of her identity in politics as all parties other than the BJP relegated them as just a votebank.
“I have been serving the BJP for long. My candidature should be seen as assertion of Kori caste among the Scheduled Caste. It also means emancipation of women and ability to change and bring legislations in the assembly,” she says.
“BJP has always seen and respected the Kori community. By electing Ram Nath Kovind for the highest position as the President, they’ve respected our community. Not only this, but Ramapati Shastri was made a cabinet minister in UP govt and many others like Manu Kori. They gave a ticket to a commoner like me,” she adds.
Hathras has a huge representation of Kori caste and sizeable number of Brahmins and non-Yadav OBCs.