- HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Delhi Police detained several college students protesting against the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, a right-wing Hindu group that vowed to marry off unwed couples indulging in public displays of affection on the occasion of Valentine’s Day on Saturday.
Hundreds of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University students dressed in wedding costumes descended on the Mandir Marg office of the Akhil Bhart Hindu Mahasabha in the capital, demanding a mass wedding in what they said was a protest against the “politics of oppression”.
“Since the Hindu Mahasabha has come up with this wonderfully generous plan… we felt that the least we could do is to make the execution of their plan easier,” the organiser of the student protest Vidhyalakshmi Kumari posted on Facebook.
The police, however, picked them up before they could assemble for the protest and took them to two nearby police stations in four buses amid scuffles, according to an eyewitness. A huge crowd later gathered outside the police stations to demand the release of the detained protesters.
The Akhil Bhart Hindu Mahasabha earlier said it would dispatch teams to parks and shopping malls across the capital on Saturday to target canoodling couples.
Chander Prakash Kaushik, head of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabh, said its volunteers wanted to “make them understand with love”.
“Our volunteers will try and tell the couples that celebrating Valentine’s Day is not part of our Hindu culture,” he said.
“If they truly love each other, we will ask them to come to our office where we will solemnise their marriage before the holy fire.
“I don’t see there is anything wrong with this.”
Valentine’s Day protests have turned violent in the past, with reports of hardliners destroying cards and posters at shopping malls and blackening the faces of young unmarried couples out in public. In 2009, members of a Hindu right-wing group in Karnataka barged into a corporate Valentine’s Day party and ransacked the venue.