The Hindu Right's War on Courtship

People may be familiar with the story -- there's been a national outcry against the recent police beatings of couples who were doing nothing more than sitting together in a public park in broad daylight.

What interests me is the logic by which people support the beatings. I was at my parents' house (with access to Zee News) when this story broke, and what surprised me was the readiness of the Hindu right to make this a viable issue: that the police are right to beat anyone who appears to be on a date. They were actually holding (sizeable) protests against the fact that the police are being investigated! And here is a quote in the Times from one of the police officers accused of brutality:

Meerut police officials conceded that some officers overreacted. But they also defended their actions. Couples sat in "objectionable poses," said a defiant Mamta Gautam, a police officer accused in the beatings, including some with their heads in their partners' laps. Yes, Ms. Gautam went on, she had slapped those who tried to run away when the police asked for names and addresses. "If they were not doing anything illegal, why they wanted to run away?" the policewoman demanded in an interview. "I do not consider that what we did was wrong."

When you're thinking paranoid, it's easy to magnify the unspeakable deeds of your cultural opponent. In this case, the couples sitting together are presumed to be "doing something illegal," not because of what Mr. Gautam saw, but because of what she didn't see!

On top of this are added other social issues, including caste. Again from the Times:

That afternoon in Gandhi Park, even a young woman sitting alone was not spared. The woman, who gave her name only as Priyanka, said she was waiting on a park bench when the shouting of the police and their targets interrupted her thoughts. Getting up from her bench, Priyanka said she walked in the direction of the commotion when a police officer, Ms. Gautam, as it turned out, pounced on her and accused her of being a prostitute.

What is more, Priyanka said, the policewoman slapped her and called her a "chamari," a slur based on her caste.

The more I hear from Officer Mamta Gautam, the more I hope she gets discharged from the police as speedily as possible.

UPDATE: Portions of this post have been changed. Sorry for the confusion.