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Moral brigades to keep off this Valentine's Day

Sunday February 12, 2012 12:40:42 PM, Prathiba Raju, IANS

New Delhi: This Valentine's Day, couples can snuggle up on park benches and corners unhassled. Moral brigades who crack down on love-struck couples on Valentine's have no intention to play spoilsport on Feb 14, an activist of a right wing group said.

One of the reasons behind this change of heart is the bad reputation they were getting.

Om Dutt Sharma, Shiv Sena's Delhi convenor, told IANS: "Since last year we are not going in for any kind of demonstration. What is the use or point of doing such protests. We cannot stop them from celebrating, and we are getting a bad reputation among them."

"Earlier, we used to object to Valentine's Day celebrations and tell couples whom we found together to get married, otherwise we would hand them over to police or parents. But since last year we have subdued our opposition," Vinod Sharma, a Bajrang Dal activist, told IANS.

Vinod Sharma said they have no objections to Valentine's Day being celebrated.

"There will be no protests or demonstrations against it, but at the same time youngsters should also behave decently. We have already given instructions through our district offices that no activists should harass any couple on Feb 14 unnecessarily," Sharma said.

The moral brigade is known to harass couples and disrupt celebrations on the ground that Valentine's Day is a Western concept and against Indian culture.

However, Vijay Bansal of the Viswa Hind Parishad (VHP) said the group would not encourage the celebrations. They plan to oppose it in a different way.

"Youngsters and couples should not indulge in immoral behaviour on Feb 14 at public places like pubs, parks, restaurants and gardens. We are sending about 50 letters in and around Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) to various pubs, restaurants and hotel managements asking them not to organise any programmes or allow vulgar dances in their premises," Bansal said.

Apart from pubs and restaurants, the group is sending letters to educational institutions to request that Valentine's Day events are not celebrated.

"We will be sending letters to all universities in the national capital requesting them not to hold Valentine's Day celebrations. It is a Western concept and against Indian culture," Bansal said.

He also claimed that the right wing outfits have never promoted violence.

"It could have been in demonstrations in previous years.. The steps we take now are to prevent harassment of women on this day. Even last year Feb 14, three incidents of harassment of women was reported in Delhi and NCR areas," added Bansal.

In the past, Hindu radicals kept vigil at parks, restaurants and other places on the day to prevent couples from getting close, and also attacked greeting card shops, pubs and gardens to protest the celebrations, drawing widespread criticism.

Jai Bhagwan Goyal from Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena (RSS) feels that youngsters are being looted by celebrating Valentine's Day.

"These celebrations are just a gimmick of multi-national companies, who want to loot money from young consumers in India by celebrating Valentine's Day. Spending on gift items - right from cards, flowers, jewellery, chocolates, mobile phones, MP3 players and wrist watches, people in our country spend lakhs on this particular day," added Goyal.

According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), the expenditure during Valentine's week last year was a whopping Rs.12,000 crore.







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