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Hundreds of Kiss of Love activists are expected to descend on the picturesque Marine Drive in Kerala's coastal city of Kochi on Thursday evening "to steal kisses" as a show of protest against rising incidents of moral policing. Similar protests will also be witnessed across the state.
The mass protest follows the recent action of goons reportedly from the Shiv Sena who on Wednesday evening chased away young men and women at Marine Drive Kochi, a favourite place of many, alleging immoral activities. They also showed their "zeal to protect Indian culture."
A host of organizations in the state, including the SFI and DYFI have also weighed in by supporting the protests after the incidents of hooliganism witnessed on International Women's Day. In video footages aired by local channels, a group of men can be seen holding banners and flags of Shiv Sena and marching along Marine Drive caning men and women, while claiming to be 'protecting girls from atrocities'. What is even more shocking is that this incident took place in the presence of police officers opting to remain mute spectators.
Lasar Shine, writer and activist told International Business Times, India, "It's a 'Mangalore model' shaming that unfolded at marine drive yesterday, which aims at shaming the couples and gaining publicity for the so called organisation. The act was a planned one and they had even called the media and police, besides getting their own group of cameramen. What is happening now in the state is the 'murder' without spilling the blood of the victims. The protest that is taking place today is against this increasing 'craze' of hooliganism, which should not find its place in a state where the left-led government is in power."
The latest incident has left many in shock and they are demanding action against those involved. In the recent past, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi VIjayan had promised swift action against those found harassing the people insisting that failure of the police in taking action will result in punishment for the police.
Following the inaction of the police against the hooligans involved, Central SI Vijayashankar has been suspended while eight other police officers on duty at Marine Drive have been moved to the AR camp. So far, the police in the state have arrested six Shiv Sena activists in connection with the incident.
Moral Policing-a growing menace
Kerala, the God's Own country has seen rise in moral policing in recent months and in many cases the act went too far, even claiming the lives of the victims. In a recent incident, a young man Aneesh P, victim of moral policing, was found dead hanging from a tree a few days after a bunch of hooligans traumatised him and his girl companion at Azheekal beach.
Members of the Shiv Sena unit of Kerala on Wednesday took out a procession on Marine Drive in Kochi and, in an act of moral policing, evicted couples from there. Videos from the spot show the Sena men verbally abusing and threatening the couples — including the women. Ironically, all this happened on International Women's Day.
Moral policing has been a rising menace in Kerala, and has resulted in people coming out in protest against it after several such instances of policing causing great trauma to the victims. The effects of moral policing became painfully apparent when a man ended his life after he and his girl friend fell prey to it on Valentine's Day.
This moral policing was on display once again in Kochi on Wednesday, and there is documented video proof of the incident. the video shows the sena members — clad in all-white — berating couples that are forced to flee from them. In one instance, one Sena member is seen chasing a couple, but gives up when he apparently realises they are too far for him or possibly because they had not heeded him at all.
In the video, the Sena men are also seen isolating women to shout at them. At one point, one of them approached a girl who seemed to be walking alone, and berated her, shouting at her to leave.
Sadly, police personnel in uniform were also seen in the video, leading to speculation that the Sena men had tacit approval of the cops in their venture. This could also result in no complaint being registered against the Shiv Sena members, and they going scot free despite their behaviour.
See the video of their actions on Wednesday here: