In February 2017, a couple in Kerala went live on Facebook after they were harassed by police who accused them of “showing vulgarity”. Cut to 2018, the issue of moral policing doesn’t seem to be ending in the country. On Monday night, a couple in Kolkata was assaulted by a group of elderly men for “standing too close” to each other in the metro. Subsequently, they were beaten up at Dum Dum station. According to a journalist working with a Bangla daily, the man was first punched on and kicked in his face and when the woman tried to stop the assault, she was thrashed too. The incident resulted in protests, with many strongly condemning the act and others taking to the streets with placards that read — ‘Free hugs’.
The unrest, fury and tension was quite palpable, on social media as well. Many, including author Taslima Nasreen, vehemently called out the explicit “moral policing” of the society that was on display. Nasreen tweeted out a picture of the couple getting beaten up, with this caption: “A young couple embraced in Kolkata metro. It made a bunch of frustrated old losers angry. They beat them up. Scenes of hatred are allowed. Scenes of love are considered obscene.
Here are other reactions the incident garnered on the micro-blogging site.
A young couple embraced in Kolkata metro. It made a bunch of frustrated old losers angry. They beat them up. Scenes of hatred are allowed. Scenes of love are considered obscene. pic.twitter.com/Jv4zNaMDe8
— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) May 1, 2018
Young couple thrashed for hugging in Kolkata metro and most of them who involved in violence were old men. They have no problem with rapes and child marriages but only with love. This is an inhuman cultural problem!
— Kiruba Munusamy (@kirubamunusamy) May 2, 2018
Uglies move towards other worst culture !
Kolkata Metro condemns attack on couple for hugging, then comments young generation lacks decency, mannershttps://t.co/YugXh7uU7T
Shared from my Google feed
— Ashim Majumder (@AshimMa44788458) May 3, 2018
In the mood for love? In heartless India, don’t you dare
A couple beaten on the Kolkata Metro for standing too close is yet another instance of India’s intolerance for young love.https://t.co/sm0all8SEB via @scroll_in
— chooch mcchooch (@chooch051) May 2, 2018
Offending!! Who’s to decide on who’s to be beaten up? Who are they to decide? The ones beating up should be punished & penalized for their behavior. Hope.. Majority says so🙏
— MriniD88 (@MrinaliniDutta) May 2, 2018
Did Kolkata Metro come out in support of passengers who thrashed a young couple? Shockingly, it looks like YES. It did, or whoever is handling its social media account did, and is now trying to deny the episode instead of taking action. https://t.co/B6aTCCXqSK via @AltNews
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) May 2, 2018
Shame on these so called “moral police” people who thinks they are care takers of moral fabric of country, it was a couple loving each other in a metro. And shame on Kolkata metro, GM for defending moral policing #HokAlinggon #হোকআলিঙ্গন pic.twitter.com/TP8R9Cb4LB
— Riya Mukherjee (@riyalovezu) May 2, 2018
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and if the same beti shows #PDA usko publically peet do. Waah bc.
Couple thrashed in kolkata metro just bcz they were hugging. This is why west bengal should have new governance, it’s in desperate need if it.#EndMoralPolicing#WestBengal @MamataOfficial https://t.co/737nO8tISx
— Anurag Upadhyay (@_aye_pandit) May 2, 2018
This could be us.
But, we live in a country named India where you can rape women in public buses but can’t hug her in metro. pic.twitter.com/ELBBHLveLA
— Monica Geller (@badmademoisell) May 1, 2018
What was endearing was how the incident sparked widespread protests and people, inclduing many youngsters, took to the streets to get the point across in a rather out-of-the-box way — by offering ‘jaadu ki jhappis’ (magical hugs).
Watch IE Bangla’s video of the protests here.
A handful of people, meanwhile, wondered on the Internet if there is more to the story because it is unlikely that just hugging could have triggered the elderly men. “We scanned every frame of the CCTV footage. All movements were completely normal. We also spoke to RPF and security officials on duty — no one saw anything.” told Indrani Banerjee, a metro spokesperson to The Indian Express, asserting that they did not find any untoward movements in the CCTV footage they analysed.