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Love amidst elections and threats
Ehtasham Khan in Ranchi | February 13, 2005 21:30 IST
A day before Valentine's Day on Monday, the market in Ranchi was glowing with gifts and cards.
But there is fear among Valentine's couples in Jharkhand's capital, where some rightwing outfits have announced that those expressing love in public would be punished.
These organisations, which believe public expression of love is against the Indian culture, have decided to forget elections for a day and keep a vigil on youngsters.
The city is going for polls in the second phase of assembly election in the state on February 15.
The strangest threat has come from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. The organisation said Valentine's couples would be married forcibly in Ranchi.
At a press conference, ABVP's state president Harishankar said the organisation's activists would arrange for the marriages. He said activists would keep vigil in parks, hotels and other places where couples in love are generally seen.
Photographs of such couples would also be taken secretly and sent to their parents. The ABVP has no objection to love but its public display should not be allowed, he said.
On Valentine's Day every year, ABVP activists launch such campaigns. They use sticks to beat couples found 'sitting close' to or kissing each other.
Similarly, the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal have also threatened to 'insult' such couples.
Such threats, however, have not hampered the spirit of youngsters in the state's capital, although some are apprehensive in view of incidents in previous years of scuffle between couples in love and those against Valentine's Day celebration.
The city has traditionally been an open society with a large number of Adivasis, Christian and migrant population. It has many educational institutions, including the premier St Xavier's College and the Rajender Medical College and Hospital.
Well-decorated shops are offering several schemes and gifts on the occasion of Valentine's Day.
Santosh Yadav, 25, who works with a private bank, said: "There have been problems in the past, but people are not bothered by them. No one can stop lovers."
More reports from Jharkhand