Love turned to strife in Delhi on Saturday as students took to streets to protest the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahsabha’s diktat to marry off couples on Valentine’s Day and entered into altercations with the police.
The protesters — mostly students from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University — broke barricades and entered into a restricted area outside Mandir Marg, prompting the police to detain them.
As a precautionary measure, Delhi Police had put up barricades on the entire stretch of road outside the Hindu Mahasabha’s Mandir Marg office.
Initially only around 100 policemen were deployed to handle the protestors, but reinforcements were rushed in later.
The protesters were led by JNU’s Student Federation of India activists who broke the barricades and shouted slogans in portable public address system.
The vociferous protesters, who sang songs and held up placards that read “Love is my choice”, were soon rounded up by the police and put into police vans.
“This is against our freedom. These right-wing groups are trying to divide us on communal lines. Voice of dissent is being curbed sadly,” Mitish Narayan, a JNU student shouted from the police van.
Some students who had turned up as brides and bridegrooms dared the Hindu right wing group to marry them off as promised. A number of gay and lesbian couples joined the protesters to register their dissent.
“As promised by the Hindu mahasabha people, we have come here to get married. Now we want to see what they do about us,” said Vikram Aditya and Aditya Raj, who had come dressed in dhotis and turbans.
Police said the students were detained as Section 144 of the CrPC — which restricts assembling of people crowds — had been imposed in the area.
The police had barely managed to load the protesters in two buses when students representing All India Students Association (AISA) started creating a rattle.
The group, sporting masks and colourful attire, wanted a wedding ceremony. Instead they were met by policemen who shoved them into buses.
“Delhi Police backed by the BJP government has shown apathy and has done nothing about church vandalisations and continuous religious divides. But when students group organise peaceful protests against moral policing, it takes them just 10 minutes to crack down,” Ashutosh Kumar, JNUSU president, said.
Though not to be seen anywhere initially, the Hindu Mahasabha later sent out Vishnu Gupta who handed over yellow roses to all the detained students.