Note to DMRC: You can't undo it. You can't feign ignorance. And you sure as hell can't deny it. The ball is in your court now. The way I see it, speaking up and clearing your stand is the best course of action at your disposal right now.
I am a regular Delhi Metro commuter and like all metro travellers, I have only grown richer in my day-to-day experiences and observations of the world that travels with me from Dilshad Garden to Chattarpur and back, six days of the week. From the struggle to find a seat to getting off the human centipede in a single piece, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of the Delhi Metro and, in all honesty, I've enjoyed most of it.
Until I saw THIS advertisement yesterday at the Kashmere Gate metro platform.
And then, there's the second part to it which shows a couple being married off on the 14th.
For those who didn't get the context, it's a transit ad which says that it's okay for the police to take stringent actions against couples who are caught celebrating Valentine's day.
Surprised much? So was I!
I mean, do these kind of banner advertisements really get printed? If yes, who's stupid and regressive enough to give them publishing space? And that's when I decided to inspect the advertisement closely and found gold!
The cringeworthy advertisement is the brain child of none-other-than Asumal Sirumalani (popularly known as Saint Asaram Bapu) who is currently serving jail time in Jodhpur on the charges of child abuse, rape, unnatural exorcism, wrongful confinement, intimidation and what not.
Fun fact: a man like that is running an advertisement agency from inside the jail and still managing to perpetrate patriarchal and horrid messages into our society in the form of huge posters and targets one of the life lines of the national capital, the Delhi Metro.
But the bigger question is:
What in the world were you thinking DMRC, when you allowed such an ad to be put in one of your most crowded stations?
Correct me if I am wrong, DMRC, a client buys ad space from you, you take the money and run their ads for a stipulated time period at desired vantage points. Right?
Right, so next time, why not let ISIS put their recruitment ads at your subways stations because I am sure they can pay you more than a handful.
I mean, seriously! Do you really agree with the conservative junk written on those posters? Do you absolutely feel no effing responsibility towards your commuters as a really important government service?
And fuck responsibility, do you actually think that you're above the law of the land when you try to scare people off by the idea of forcibly getting them married?
It pains me all the more to see that such an important and loved mode of travel of the Capital doesn't give a flying fuck about an episode like this. At least that's what it looks like after our relentless efforts to get the DMRC's side of the story went down the drain. However, we did manage to get in touch with the PR department of the DMRC and this is what came out of an otherwise futile conversation:
"No advertisement/poster/message can be put up inside the metro rail or the station premises without the knowledge of the authorities"
-Sandhya Sharma (Assistant Manager, PR department, DMRC)
Well, that simply blows away the remaining benefit of doubt that the optimist in me was giving to the DMRC. This means that no miscreant had come in and placed the ads without the DMRC's knowledge.
Which in other words also means that all of this happened with the DMRC's knowledge and, worse still, with their consent.
While the whole episode is all shades of fucked up, I just want to know something from the DMRC - Why be our moral police? Don't we have enough already on our plate to deal with? Why tell us what we should do on V-day and what we shouldn't?
We may roam hand-in-hand with our lovers or even embrace them right under your CCTV camera, it's our choice and ours alone.
We bring all of this up not to shame the DMRC or jeopardize its image in any which way. All we want through this write-up is to make the DMRC realize that even if it's a sheer case of misjudgment, it's a little too out-of-hand.
Now do you really need me to say this aloud that the next sensible step is to take that poster down and replace it with something sensible.