Come Valentine’s Day and there’s the usual violent campaign by hooligans of the Hindu fundamentalist groups against it. They argue that it’s a western practice which corrupts the youths of India. They target shops selling Valentine’s Day Cards and hotels and clubs that organize programs and dinners for those who celebrate Valentine’s Day.

“I Will start my protest from Sunday. I know a shop in my area which sells these Valentine’s Day cards. We are going to storm it on Sunday”,
These are the words of an office bearer of one of the most virulent Hindu fundamentalist parties.
But intolerance of any free association between men and women has always been a key element of Indian orthodoxy. Love marriage is frowned upon because love before marriage is taboo.The following incident illustrates the extent of violent objection to changes in ways of thinking and living of people from the loyal votaries of outdated custom.
On Dec 19, 2005, policewomen assaulted, rounded up and humiliated young women who were found paired with their boyfriends and spending romantic moments with them in a park in the North Indian city of Merut. Three days later, some self-appointed guardians of Hindu culture acting as ‘culture police’ attacked and roughed up more couples in the same park. This time the police accompanied the hooligans and let them do the job for them.The police brutality of pummeling and pulling the hair of women was aired on TVs, triggering nationwide outrage and debate on the matter. Local residents objected to the police high handedness and cruelty. But it didn’t prevent the police from assaulting people on moral grounds again. The second time they escorted hooligans and set them on men and women in the park.
“Immoral activities by boys and girls have to stop. If Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal people are taking action, then it is not wrong,” said a policeman who was at the park.
Public opinion is divided on the issue of courtship, but united against police brutality and the hooliganism of the ‘culture police’ in the matter.
“Why don’t the police take action against people running prostitution rackets in hotels?” said a woman resident of Merut.
“Is falling in love wrong? Who gave the police the right to beat and hit people and misbehave in such a manner,” asked another woman in Meerut.

It’s not two months since the Merut incident, but the ‘culture police’ are at it again at Valentine’s Day. They have to protect culture!

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