Valentine 'police' offer roses, weddings to keep Indian couples demure
By Tony Tharakan
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Right-wing Hindus in India are offering white roses, free counseling and a chance to get married for couples caught kissing or hugging in public places on Valentine's Day.
Roving three-person teams of volunteers from the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha will fan out across India on Feb. 14, scanning parks and public spaces for couples exhibiting "inappropriate behavior."
"We'll explain the meaning of love to them," said Chander Prakash Kaushik, the group's president. "We are against any vulgarity, not against love."
"Suhaag raat should be in the bedroom, not on roads," he said, using the Hindi term for the consummation of a marriage.
Kaushik said the Hindu Mahasabha volunteers would distribute white roses to signify they come in peace, and then advise the couples to get married if they are really in love. Priests would at hand to carry out the ceremony, if needed.
"We can't force people in this day and age, we can only counsel them," he said.
A Delhi Police spokesman said people would not be allowed to take the law into their own hands.
The Hindu Mahasabha, which is not affiliated to the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, is among groups seen as self-appointed moral guardians of younger Indians who increasingly seek the right to choose their own partner, independent of caste and other traditional rules. Continued...