It all started in the city of Calicut (Kozhikode in the local language). The “kiss of love” protest was planned after Hindu activists vandalised a cafe in Calicut city last week saying students were using the place to date. A disgusting report on a local News channel (who should be ashamed of themselves for creating a sensational type report) deploring the newer coffeeshops that have opened up near the beach area, a popular hangout for the youth of that city, secretly recorded young lovers (I assume that these are college age and perhaps just out of college kids) meeting in the private area behind the cafe “Down Town” and engaged in kissing and hugging. After the report was aired on tv, goondas from the Yuva Morcha group assaulted the cafe and it’s owners, causing damage to property as well.
Just days after that activists formed a small group and gathered massive support online via Twitter and their Facebook page. Their plan was to gather at the Marine Drive in Kochi (formerly Cochin) city on Sunday and kiss in protest. Dating and public displays of affection are still largely taboo in India. People of all ages, income brackets and ideologies soon joined in and supported the cause and made plans to meet up at Marine Drive. However, organizers failed to reach the proposed protest site after being taken into police custody as a preventive measure to ensure violence didn’t break out between them and hardline Hindus and Muslims. They were bundled into police vans about a kilometer away from Marine Drive, the proposed protest site. K.G. James, Kochi’s police commissioner, said 32 protesters were taken into police custody as a preventative measure and released a couple of hours later. They were not charged with any offence. Protests inspired by the event in Kerala were also held in other parts of India including Mumbai and Hyderabad on Sunday.
Meanwhile, organizers said their personal Facebook accounts were temporarily suspended and a page created to garner support was removed for several hours on Monday. The page has amassed over 74,000 likes since it was created last week. By late afternoon on Monday, it was accessible again. Soon after the original page disappeared, a replacement page was created and included a post containing a line by Chile’s Nobel-Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda that read, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” Facebook said the page received a large number of reports for spam and that’s why it was taken down. Users can report any page created on Facebook and can select options including “It’s harassing me or someone I know”, “I just don’t like it” or “Something else” when lodging a complaint. The page was restored back in a few hours.
This event may have had met with a “failure” in reaching it’s meeting point and having the organizers taken in by the cops (while the violent activists were roaming freely) but it succeeded in lighting a fire in the belly of most free thinking people in the state and elsewhere. Similar protests and actions are being organized in solidarity and we will see a sea change in the nation. No one has the right to beat up people who express their affection by kissing or hugging and no groups have the right to enforce their so called “morals” on the rest of us. Disgusting comments by backward thinking people – “If it was my sister seen kissing in the cafe then we would kill her” – screamed on comment on Youtube! The rights of the girls/women in her own life be damned! What do these people expect – that their sisters are only to be kept at home, learn cooking and then marry & have sex & later babies with the guy that their parents choose? She is to have no say in the matter at all? Thinking like this should be left in the 16th century where it belongs. I can’t believe this nation came up with the Kamasutra!