We shall not be frightened away from going to pubs due to threats from self-proclaimed moral police - that is the message from Indians across the globe as part of their Pub Bharo campaign on social networking site Facebook. Members plan to congregate at pubs on Valentine's Day.
Tejaswini Chowdhury, daughter of union Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury, started the community days after the Jan 24 Mangalore incident when members of a right-wing Hindu fringe group brutally beat up and molested girls at a pub in the city.
The 'Pub Bharo' community already has around 1,000 members who are all set to unite and express their solidarity in a rather unique manner.
Chowdhury has called all members to fill up pubs across the country on Saturday, celebrated as Valentine's Day.
"Join me on Feb 14, 2009, to fill every pub across India in a show of solidarity between all religions and both sexes," Tejaswini writes on the community forum home page.
However, Chowdhury is apprehensive about the security of the women who will be participating in the campaign on Feb 14. She said the government has refused to provide security to campaign members on the day.
"What is making me so sad is that (Pramod) Muthalik's (head of the Sri Ram Sene) goons were allowed to hold a victory march for beating those girls. No cop was sent to stop the march. Yet when NGOs and students want to participate in the campaign (Pub Bharo), suddenly all the laws fall into place. The government has denied any sort of protection for Feb 14th, due to which other NGOs have backed out. I don't know what to do," Chowdhury said.
She adds however that "while these lunatics think they can teach us a lesson by beating the women of our country, let us Indians teach them the true power of our nation, that refuses to be cowered by acts of violence."
"If they are having victory marches, let us show them that India will never allow any anti-social, anti-nationalist elements to dictate the terms and conditions of the Indian way of life."
The resolve of the community members, also appears strong.
Chaitali, a member of the group, posted this message on the forum's blog.
"I know what I am NOT going to do. I will not surrender to hooliganism or any form of goondagiri (hooliganism) I will not go against my own, personal convictions: be it about frequenting bars or clubs for a drink, or wearing strappy tops and tight jeans. I will not be forced to change my beliefs in a particular religion nor will I be tormented into disrespecting another."
Another member, Bangalore-based Radhika Raghuraman was visibly angry.
She said: "Tell me where in Bangalore!!! My girls and I will be there in full force! I can promise you that!!! Boss, it is very simple, live your life the way you want to but don't force me to live mine your way. I know who and what I am, you need not tell me. I am an adult and know what I am and am not. Just because I go to a pub does not make me a bad person. How I live my life is my business and nobody else's."
Another member requested others to spread the word, even to media, to try and garner support from local police authorities and the government for the campaign.