Beware! Here comes the young anti-moral policing brigade

February 8th, 2009 - 2:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) Namrata Kotwani is preparing to observe Valentine’s Day in a big way. Coochie-cooing with her partner however, is not her plan. Instead, she is gathering support to form an anti-moral policing brigade which will get together Feb 14 to tell all the self appointed moral vigilantes that what they do will not be tolerated.

“I am not a champion of Valentine’s Day - I will be the first one to say that it’s just an excuse for the greeting card companies to sell their things. But this kind of moral policing on V Day and others by the so-called moral police is not just harassment, but also unconstitutional,” Kotwani, 24, told IANS.

“Therefore, our protest is against all kinds of moral policing that has become so frequent in our country. Goons bashing up young couples and others on Valentine’s Day is just one of the instances which has become almost like a regular feature every year,” she said.

A student who aspires to become a lawyer championing civil liberties, Kotwani said that the idea of such a campaign struck her after the Mangalore incident in which 40 members of the Sri Rama Sene assaulted several young women in the name of upholding Indian values and culture.

“What they do is just a perverted interpretation of culture and religion. One of the most beloved icons of the Hindu religion is Krishna, who championed love. We all have our personal interpretation of religion and no one has the right to impose their ideas on others,” said Kotwani, whose blog www.avalentineforindia.blogspot.com has attracted a lot of attention.

“Ever since the Mangalore incident took place, I have been reading about it every day in the newspapers and each time I get very angry. These kinds of acts are a murder of our Constitution and a threat to our civil liberties.

“Unfortunately though, the moral police don’t seem to be aware of our Constitution which is the hallmark of our democracy,” she added.

Kotwani is not alone in her endeavour.

Certain sections of civil society like the Earth Saviours Foundation and even the Delhi unit of Kashmir-based National Panthers Party (NPP) have chalked out plans to oppose anyone assaulting people on Valentine’s Day.

In response to threats by the Sri Rama Sene to marry off couples celebrating V Day, Ravi Kalra of the Earth Saviours Foundation told IANS: “No one dare violate the law by harassing women and marrying off young couples in the name of upholding Indian culture.

“We will make sure that people who break the law are handed over to the police.”

Kalra has formed 10 Valentine Help Escort team which will be on patrol in the capital Feb 14.

Similarly, the Delhi chief of the NPP Sanjoy Sachdev said that their members will go around the capital armed with chilli spray to fight off any trouble maker on the street. Karate experts will accompany them.

“We have set up a control room in the party office which one can get access to by dialling 9313784375. Such fascist forces will not be tolerated,” Sachdev said.

Kotwani added: “We will make posters, banners and flyers with various slogans like ‘Girls are not cattle, stop locking us up after dusk!’ ‘We stand by our Constitution’ and one for the National Commission for Women (NCW) ‘Your loyalties should be towards women, not political parties’, besides others.

“Whatever we do will be peaceful. We don’t want trouble. All that we do will be exercising our right to free speech and assembly,” she said.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.p@ians.in)

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