Change of heart? No V-Day rampage, promise Hindu outfitsBy Prathiba Raju, IANS
Saturday, February 12, 2011
NEW DELHI - They have no plans for Valentine’s Day this year, or so they say. Hindu radical outfits like the Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hind Parishad (VHP) promise they will not disrupt Valentine’s Day (VD) celebrations though they will solicit support against it.
“We have no objections. Let Valentine’s Day be celebrated. We won’t hold any open protests or demonstrations against it, but at the same time youngsters should behave decently,” Bajrang Dal’s Delhi state convenor Shailendra Jaiswal told IANS.
He also said youngsters and couples should not indulge in immoral behaviour on Feb 14 at public places like pubs, parks, restaurants and gardens. Jaiswal also said they had given instructions through their district offices that their activists should not harass any couple on that day.
Om Dutt Sharma, Shiv Sena’s Delhi convenor, said, “There is no point in holding protests and demonstrations as we cannot stop people from celebrating. So this year we will not hold protests of this kind.”
Vinod Bansal, media coordinator of the VHP, said: “We will be sending letters to various pubs, restaurants and hotel managements asking them not to organise any programmes or allow vulgar dances on their premises Feb 14.”
“Some corporate companies and a particular section of people are trying to cash in on these celebrations.”
The moral brigade has been known to harass couples and disrupt celebrations on the ground that Valentine’s Day is a Western concept and against Indian culture.
They usually keep vigil at parks, restaurants and other places on the day. In the past, Hindu radicals have even gone on the rampage at greeting card shops, pubs and gardens to protest the celebrations, drawing widespread criticism.
Uday Sharma, a Bajrang Dal activist, said: “Earlier, we used to interrupt celebrations by warning couples and asked them to get married. We also threatened to hand them over to police or parents. But this year we have decided not to show our opposition to the celebrations in this manner.”
If an estimate of the expected expenditure related to this day is any indication, V-Day celebrations are nowhere close to ebbing.
According to a two-month-long study held in 10 major cities from December 2010- January 2011 by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), the expenditure during Valentine’s week is likely to cross a whopping Rs.12,000-crore mark this year.
So what is behind the change of tactic of these rightwing outfits - the obvious popularity of the occasion or the public criticism of the violence they unleash?
Jaiswal said that is not the case. “We are not against the celebration, but against the way it is celebrated. Our only demand is that decency in public places should be maintained,” he said adding they would not encourage it either.
Bansal said they have requested educational institutions to ensure there won’t be any Valentine’s Day events. “We will be sending letters to all universities in the national capital requesting them not to allow students to hold any type of celebration.”
Bansal, however, insisted that rightwing outfits had never indulged in violence on Valentine’s Day and only prevented the harassment of women.
“Our aim is to prevent women from being harassed. We’ve sent a letter to all pubs and discotheque owners and the police commissioner as well. We are asking them to prevent unruly behaviour and celebrations by roadside Romeos to harass women,” Bansal said.
(Prathiba Raju can be contacted at email@example.com)