The Kiss of Love campaign reached the capital on Saturday, with over 150 young men and women turning up in front of RSS headquarters in North Delhi’s Jhandewalan area to protest against moral policing. Despite the heavy police presence in the area the campaign soon turned a melee with a group of Hindu Sena members disrupting the two-hour campaign several times.
The campaigners, mostly students and activists turned up around 4 pm and began sloganeering against the “Love-Jihad bogey” and moral policing.
“If conservative elements can capture our public spaces and impose their diktat on us, we will do the same in retaliation. Our university spaces, parks and roads are not free any more. We are reclaiming them now. We live in an age where a Dalit man is hacked to 40 pieces because he fell in love with a woman from a higher caste. This Kiss of Love campaign is a defiance of moral policing and a struggle to uphold the spirit of love in all its forms and for everyone,” Zareen, a campaigner, said.
Youths hugged and kissed each other to the background score of Bollywood songs celebrating love and freedom. Soon Hindu Sena members arrived on the scene and protested that the “ Western culture was corrupting and degrading Indian culture”.
They got into a scuffle with the Kiss of Love campaigners a couple of times and police too joined the fray. Around 5 pm, campaigners staged a sit-in at Rani Jhansi roundabout and blocked traffic for over an hour.
“Paschami sabhyata (western culture) is degrading our cultural ethos. We are not against borrowing the good from the West. But why take the bad? The bad things take no time in spreading while the good things takes years to inculcate. Our sisters and our daughters will fall prey to these corrupting influences,” Sachin Goel, a student, said.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Central) Alok Kumar said, “There were around 70 to 80 campaigners at the venue. We detained 70 persons for a brief period at Paharganj police station.”
Mark Brown, a student of University College London who is on an internship in Delhi, said, “Indian culture is too varied and complex to say something as sweeping as Western culture is influencing it in a bad way. There should be space to allow one to borrow whatever he or she likes from a particular culture. It is all about assimilation.”
The first Kiss of Love event was held in Kochi on November 2 to protest against moral policing by right-wing groups. Similar events have been organised at Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai.