On February 14, the streets of Delhi will be manned by the guardians of love, who will thwart any attacks on young couples by the guardians of ‘genuine Indian culture’.
Armed with pepper spray cans and martial arts skills, members of the National Panthers Party will patrol the streets to ensure a molestation-free Valentine’s Day, which has now become as much a symbol of personal liberty as a day to celebrate love. Such patrols have been in place in previous years, but this time they are far more watchful because of the hooligan attacks on girls at a Mangalore pub.
The heads of this group are experts in judo and karate and they are going to be on the roads, says Sanjay Sachdev, the Delhi chapter president of the party. “We want to shun violence as far as possible, so we’ll use chilli spray. Nobody has the right to disturb anybody’s private life,” he adds.
His party’s views on love are simple: “Love has no barriers, no caste, and nobody should be discriminated on the basis of gender.” The party is distributing 50,000 handbills and pamphlets tomorrow on all campuses across Delhi. “We want young people to join our squad,” says Sachdev, “because until and unless society does not come forward, it’s difficult to bring about changes on our own.” Party member Harsh Malhotra will answer its helpline on 9313784375.
Also, popular city nightspots like Smoke House Grill and Urban Pind say that they will keep extra bouncers in place to deal with any troublemakers.
Just do it
Youngsters are undeterred by threats to their V-Day plans from hardliners. “This is all crap,” says Garima, 19, of Gargi College. “These people are uncivilised. I’m not going to spoil the day because of this. Gender discrimination is banned, so why this nonsense?”
Nitish Sharma, 19, a student of Pioneer Media School, cannot understand how such attacks on one’s freedom can take place in a democracy. “If what’s happening in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan happens in India, then what’s the difference? Then let the government scrap the whole idea of democracy. Both sexes are equal, and people need to understand this,” asserts Nitish, whose V-Day plans are on track. Nor will “these dhamkis” subdue Shalini, 19, a DU student.
Kashif Anzar, 23, a graduate from Jamia Millia, feels that the hardline attitude will only breed frustration. “Valentine’s Day is meant for your loved ones,” he says. “People have mistaken ideas about the day.”