Mumbai: During a panel discussion following a play on women's empowerment produced by Raell Padamsee, Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh made a comment on Raavan's conduct with Sita that sparked a heated debate and miffed many in the audience.
Satyapal Singh stirred up an old hornet’s nest on Friday when he endorsed Raavan as a model of masculine etiquette, who set the benchmark for chivalry when he abstained from touching Sita - after abducting her, of course.

The city’s Police Commissioner, who recently ordered his subordinates to take strong action in the growing cases of sexual harassment, raised eyebrows when he asked his audience to learn from, and emulate the behaviour of Ramayan’s chief antagonist.

Singh made the controversial statement in course of a panel discussion at NCPA, following a play dealing with women’s rights. The play, aptly named Untitled, gives expression to voiceless women across the globe. Directed by Arvind Gaur and enacted by Lushin Dubey, it explores the attempts made by women to re-negotiate boundaries set by men.

The enactment was followed by a panel discussion that was graced by Singh.

When questions were thrown open to the audience, a viewer seized the chance and asked the top cop what measures he has put in place to curb the menace of sexual crimes against women in the city. Attempting a response, the commissioner conveniently went off on a tangent, waxing eloquent about the merits of the great Indian culture, where even the demon king stopped short of sullying the honour of the woman he had snatched from her hearth.

‘Great Indian culture’

Espousing Raavan as the standard of male conduct, he said, “In Ramayan, Raavan did not touch Sita even after abducting her. That is the greatness of Indian culture, this is what we should learn from Raavan.”

Any notion of Sita’s great good fortune at having Raavan for a captor was immediately put in perspective by veteran theatre actress Dolly Thakore, who responded, “But still Sita was abandoned by her husband Ram, and the woman had to suffer.” The statement set off a discussion that continued for several minutes.