Bangalore lovers offered protection against moral brigade

February 12th, 2009 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Feb 12 (IANS) Valentine’s Day this year will be unique for lovers in India’s IT hub Bangalore. An anti-moral policing group has assured youths that its members will protect them from activists of the Sri Rama Sene, a right wing Hindu group that has threatened to disrupt celebrations on Feb 14.
The anti-moral policing group is led by Vatal Nagaraj, head of Kannada Chaluvaligaru, a pro-Kannada party.

Nagaraj, a former member of the Karnataka assembly, has named the fleet of cars he is mobilising for Valentine’s Day duty ‘Prema Vahanas’ (Love Vehicles).

The members of his party will make rounds of Lalbagh and Cubbon Park, the two most sought after places for young lovers to walk hand in hand or cuddle up, and other areas, to keep Sene men at bay.

“We have not yet decided on the number of Prema Vahanas to be put on duty that day but they will be sufficient to keep the troublemakers away,” Nagaraj told IANS.

“We will go to popular places like Lalbagh, Cubbon Park and other areas in Prema Vahanas to stop the Sene men from creating trouble,” he added.

Besides Nagaraj’s group, the Sene’s threat is also facing opposition from various other pro-Kannada organisations and the Dalit Sangarsh Samiti - a group fighting for the welfare of Dalits in Karnataka.

While the “send pink chaddis (underpants) to Rama Sene” campaign that was launched on a social networking site has got worldwide publicity for its cheeky idea, other Internet users are also active in mobilising civil society to stand up to Sene.

One blogger has urged women to gather in large numbers on Bangalore’s M.G. Road to offer free hugs to people to tell Sene and its leader Pramod Muthalik that women are not scared of his threats.

Rajiv Gowda, a young professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (IIMB), through his blog, is urging people to join hands “against moral policing, against attacks on women and for our freedom”.

Responding to his call, students and office goers held lunch-hour demonstrations at around 25 locations in Bangalore Thursday.

“Only cowards attack women”, “Jobless vultures don’t teach us about Indian culture”, “Culture okay, vulture yaake (why vultures)” were some of the slogans of the demonstrators.

Though a political activist close to Congress, Gowda said he took the initiative to mobilise people in his individual capacity.

“In my interaction with people I noticed there was disgust, anger and also fear over the attack on women in a Mangalore pub (by the Sri Rama Sene men on Jan 24) and the threat against Valentine’s Day. I could not keep quiet and had to act. Hence, the initiative,” he said.

Asked whether one is not falling into a trap by Sene, which has little support in Bangalore and other parts of Karnataka, Gowda said: “No. What is happening (Sene’s Mangalore pub attack and the threat to disrupt Valentine Day) has come as a wake up call.

“It shows how fragile our democracy is, that a group of people can create fear in others. People seemed to be accepting soft fascism,” he added.

Bangalore city police have also assured young lovers protection from trouble makers.

Karnataka police chief Ajay Kumar Singh has said there was no plan for preventive arrest of potential troublemakers “but we will ensure peace for a fun-filled Valentine’s Day”.

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