The moral police failed to curb Valentine’s Day celebrations in Delhi.
Ignoring threats from the Bajrang Dal, Shri Rama Sene and other right-wing organisations, young couples flooded Connaught Place, Priya Complex and other popular hangouts on Saturday.
Couples met in markets, malls, parks and at monuments, under the watchful eye of the Delhi Police.
For most, it was not even an act of defiance, just a matter of doing what they wanted to. “I don’t care what the fanatics say. Love is not against Indian culture and I am here to celebrate it,” said Natalia Saini, a student who visited Khan Market with her boyfriend.
Despite the odd protest, things were peaceful. The police were out in force and there was special cover for malls, shopping complexes, pubs and discotheques.
Many, however, decided to be slightly discreet about public displays of affection. Several youngsters hung out in groups, enjoying themselves, but keeping an eye out for trouble.
At the Swarn Jayanti Park in northwest Delhi’s Rohini, the police arrived much before the couples did.
“We have to ensure nobody troubles the boys and girls who come here,” said a constable.
But couples still had reason to complain. “Although the police didn’t bother us, my girlfriend and I were harassed as we talked on the lawns of Jantar Mantar. Some men told us to leave,” said Ashish Gupta, an engineer.
There were others who celebrated the day — but put a different spin on it. A traders’ association with right-wing links decided to celebrate love for the motherland. “My valentine is my motherland. I may have my wife or any other person as my valentine, but we should not forget our country,” said Praveen Khandelwal, Confederation of All India Traders president. The group marched from Red Fort to Chandni Chowk carrying images of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Rani Lakshmi Bai.