India, kissing, campaign, moral, Bismiilah Geelani

Outside a metro rail station in Delhi hundreds of young men and women sit in a circle.

One by one, couples stand up, hug and and then start kissing, while the others cheer.

They then march to the office of the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS.

This group often harasses young couples in places like parks, restaurants and beaches.

At times they use violence to stop what they see as immoral intimacy.

Thirty year old Rajesh Kumar says they have no right to do this. 

“How can you stop something as harmless as kissing in public spaces? We think that kissing in public spaces is not offensive at all, it is definitely not a part of western culture that we are taking in, it is as much a part of Indian culture and when the constitution allows this we do not want any non-constitutional body to stop us violently. So we are actually using kiss as a metaphor for non-violent protest.”

Dozens of Hindu activists come out of the RSS office and are joined by members of other Hindu groups.

They try to break up the kissing couple and start hitting some of them.

Abeshek Mishra leads the group.

“We are not against love. But you can’t do all these things in public. This is against our culture which we all hold in high esteem. If you want to do all this do it by all means but go to your home and then do it away from the public gaze.”

The Kiss of love campaign began in the southern state of Kerala after Hindu activist from RSS attacked a coffee shop and beat up couples who were there.

A group of students launched an online campaign urging people kiss in public in protest.

Hundreds of people responded.  But in Kerala the police cracked out arresting more than 50 protesters.

But this hasn’t stopped the kissing protest from spreading to all major cities in India.

Hindu religious leader Vivek Virat sees it as a foreign funded conspiracy to morally corrupt the Indian Society.

“If a child demands something that is not good for him or does something wrong what do we do, we try to make him understand that it is not good for him but he insists then we scold him or even hit him. The people behind this campaign are trying to convince the younger generation that they are free and can do anything they want,  it has already done a lot of damage and is further going to destroy them. This is a conspiracy against the Hindu society and our value system and it cannot be tolerated.”

Back at the protest site in New Delhi, the police have intervened detaining some of people from both sides and dispersing others.

Twenty five-year old Shalini is watching.

“You don’t get to see love these days.  You do see lots of violence. I don’t see anything wrong with someone going out of their way to propose to someone publicly or a hug and a kiss.”

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