Despite having announced that all his plans to get couples caught dating on Valentine’s Day forcibly married, stood cancelled, the Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik was taken into preventive custody on Friday.
Another 135 members of the radical Hindu outfit across the state were also arrested on the eve of Valentine’s Day, including Prasad Attavar, its Mangalore-based convener. The Sene’s vigilantism has been most pronounced in Mangalore.
Muthalik was held in Gulbarga, 620 km north of Bangalore, soon after his workers began handing out pamphlets opposing the celebration of Valentine’s Day
“We have an elaborate security plan to ensure couples are not disturbed on Saturday,” said Shankar Bidari, Bangalore Police Commissioner. “All our 18,000 men are on duty.”
“We called off our earlier plans because we learnt there was a conspiracy to spoil our image by getting anti social elements to misbehave with couples on Valentine’s Day,” Muthalik told HT shortly before his arrest. “Our boys will only inform the police if they see any obscene display of public affection.”
Reacting to the campaign launched by a woman’s group to send him pink panties on Valentine’s Day, he said the women’s wing of his organization would respond in kind. “We are sending out 2000 pink sarees to these women too.”
“Muthalik’s climbdown is a victory for liberal thought and democracy,” said M. V. Rajeev Gowda, professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, who was at the forefront of the counter protests against the Sri Rama Sena.
Security has been stepped in other cities like Delhi and Mumbai where the Sene’s Delhi unit and the Shiv Sena respectively have vowed not to ‘tolerate any kind of vulgarity’.