It is the season of love and the crazies are out. No, we don’t mean the people celebrating kiss day, propose day, teddy bear day (there is one, I kid you not) and chocolate day – even though they qualify too, in their own way. We mean the ones chasing them, threatening them, ransacking card shops and restaurants. Why would love, or a day dedicated to love make some people so mad? While research may be needed to look into that one, we look at how fringe groups ringed in the day of love these past couple of years.
Just to ensure that this Valentine’s Day is as eventful as those in past, lovers in India are already getting threats. Bajrang Dal upped the ante in Andhra Pradesh recently and they have taken umbrage to St Valentine. “We are not against love or lovers, but our question is why should we celebrate only February 14? St. Valentine was a controversial character so what is the significance of Valentine’s Day?” questioned Y Bhanu Prakash, state convenor, Bajrang Dal on Tuesday.
The organisation’s convener for UP and Uttarakhand, Surendra Mishra said that the “acts that couples indulge in” on roads and at public places on Valentine’s Day is “similar to nature of animals” and interfering with them is useless.
For the Hindutva groups, a comment like that is practically waving the white flag. Here is looking at people who don’t like Cupids especially not in February and were …
2009: Ram Sene found national notoriety when they attacked women in a pub in Mangalore few weeks before Valentine’s Day. They followed it up with threats for the couples. “Our activists will go around with a priest, a turmeric stub and a ‘mangal sutra’ on February 14. If we come across couples being together in public and expressing their love, we will take them to the nearest temple and conduct their marriage,” Sene leader Ram Muthalik had said then.
2010: Fringe groups don’t particularly like Valentine’s Day but public display of affection gives them apoplexy. Even police seems to share their dislike. In 2010, Pune Police said action will be taken against “indecent acts” on Valentine’s Day telling couples to avoid public displays of affection from Feb. 3 to 14. The city police proscribed, under Section 144 of the CrPC, any public show of affection tantamount to obscenity in colleges and schools, public or private.
2012: That is when a self-styled Hindu godman Asaram Bapu came up with the idea to channel all the young love in right direction. He asked people to celebrate “Worship Your Parents Day”. This year, the celebrations will happen again and events include school children offering flowers, sweets and garlands to their parents.
2014: From brutal beatings to rotten tomatoes, lovers had to face all this year. While police in Gokarna, Karnataka, beat a group of foreign tourists who were having a midnight party, VHP members threw tomatoes at lovers gathered by the banks of Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad.
2015: A prompt Arya Samaj wedding, that is what Hindu Mahasabha threatened lovers with on Valentine’s Day in 2015. In case they were found of different faiths, a conversion to Hinduism will follow. “We are not against love, but if a couple is in love then they must get married. In case if the couples claim that they need time to think about marriage, we will tell them that if they are not certain, they should belittle love by openly going around together. We will also inform their parents,” said Mahasabha national president, Chandra Prasad Kaushik.