Delhi Police on Saturday detained more than 200 college students who had gathered to protest outside the office of a right-wing outfit which had allegedly threatened to marry off couples if they indulged in public display of love on Valentine’s Day.
Students from Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, many of whom were dressed in wedding dresses and even accompanied by a band tried to march towards the office of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha at Mandir Marg but were stopped by police which had barricaded the route to avoid any confrontation.
“We just followed what they announced. They said if couples are spotted together indulging in affection, will be married off the same day. Now when we are here, why are they not going ahead,” said Chander Bhan, a DU student.
As the protesters insisted to continue there march, police detained them and took them to Parliament Street Police Station in buses. The protesters continued singing, dancing and raising slogans inside the police station premises.
“We have detained around 220 protesters as they had not sought prior permission to stage a protest and were flouting prohibitory orders which were imposed in the area,” said a senior police official.
Those detained were later released in the evening. “What’s wrong in celebrating Valentine’s Day? So what, if it is a part of the western culture, we have happily adopted so many things that are western. It is a matter of personal choice, why should they be imposing anything on us,” said Ritika Bhan, one of the protesters.
Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha had earlier said that their volunteers would be on the look out for couples indulging in public display of love on Valentine’s Day, especially in malls, gardens and parks and those ‘caught’ in the act will married off.
In a bid to protest against the right-wing outfit, some youths had started a Facebook page named ‘SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE: Hindu Mahasabha Style!’ through which students were mobilized.
“For this Valentine’s Day, the Hindu Mahasabha has announced the grandiose plan that their volunteers will look out for celebrating couples found in the streets, in parks, in cinemas, in restaurants (wherever!) and marry them off,” said an introductory post on the page.
We gather in a loud protest against this intensified attack on democratic rights by right wing forces. This is not about defending the right to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but about creatively fighting against forces that seek to undermine our rights to love, to choose, to move and to occupy public spaces, it added.