Indian students scupper Valentine's marriage plans

NEW DELHI: A right-wing Hindu group that vowed to forcibly marry Indian couples indulging in public Valentine’s Day displays of affection got more than it bargained for when hundreds of student protesters turned up demanding a wedding.

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The students, some carrying heart-shaped placards that read “fall in love not in line”, were briefly detained when they tried to break through security barricades put up around the Delhi offices of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha.

The group, whose name translates as the All-India Hindu Assembly, had announced it would dispatch teams to parks and shopping malls across the Indian capital on Saturday to target canoodling couples.

The plan sparked ridicule on social media and the students plotted to disrupt it by turning up in full wedding regalia and demanding to be married.

One female protester wearing a traditional Indian bride’s outfit shouted that officers were “not allowing us to keep our wedding dates” before being driven away in a police bus.

Some Hindu hardliners view Valentine’s Day as a Western import that goes against Indian culture, and have in the past threatened to forcibly marry couples found together.

Valentine’s Day protests have at times turned violent, with reports of hardliners destroying cards and posters at shopping malls and blackening the faces of young unmarried couples out in public.

In 2009 Hindu radicals in the southern state of Karnataka barged into a corporate Valentine’s Day party and ransacked the venue, injuring two people.

Chander Prakash Kaushik, head of the Akhil Bhart Hindu Mahasabh, defended the group’s plans.

“Celebrating Valentine’s Day is not part of our Hindu culture. And showing love in public is definitely not,” he told AFP.

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Indian students scupper Valentine's marriage plans

by Zohaib Kazmi