While Valentine's Day, the day of love, maybe a time for people to sit back, relax and spend some quality time with their partners, it is not something that the Bajrang Dal or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has been in favour of. The VHP has been condemning the day for a long time now, but Hindu outfit's international working president Pravin Togadia seems to have suddenly had a change of heart.
Addressing the VHP and Bajrang Dal supporters in Chandigarh on Sunday, February 11, Togadia said that young men and women "have the right to love."
Prem nahi karenge to vivah nahi hoga, vivah nahi hoga to srishti kaise chalegi? Yuva aur yuvtiyon ko prem karne ka poora adhikar hai. Vo adhikar unhe milna chaiye (If couples don't fall in love, there'll be no marriages. If there'll be no marriages, the world won't progress. Young men and women have the right to love, and they should get this right)," Togadia said, according to Hindustan Times.
He also asked supporters not to protest against Valentine's Day and said that "daughters and sisters have the right to love."
Maine sandesh de diya hai ki hamari beti ko bhi pyar karne ka haq hai aur hamari behen ko bhi pyar karne ka adhikar hai (I have passed on the message that our daughters and sisters also have the right to love).
Togadia seems to be dealing once shocker after another. Just a few days ago, he created quite a scare among his followers when he mysteriously went missing and was later found unconscious and admitted to hospital.
He then surprised supporters when he was seen in conversation with Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia and Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel in Ahmedabad.
Modhwadia and Patel met Togadia at the hospital after the VHP leader said there was a threat to his life.
What does Bajrang Dal say?
Valentine's Day is probably the busiest day for the Bajrang Dal. Ahead of Valentine's Day 2018, the organisation has once again spoken about "Indian culture" and how people in the country must not fall prey to western trends.
Members of the Bajrang Dal have reportedly asked restobars, pubs and clubs in Hyderabad -- especially the Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills areas -- not to hold special events on the day, as that would be equal to celebrating "foreign culture."
"We are also approaching shops and outlets selling gifts related to the 'Lover's Day' in the city," the Deccan Chronicle quoted the city Bajrang Dal in-charge, Vishal Prasad, as saying.
"It is not in Indian culture to celebrate such events and we should not let the foreign culture in. We have been telling people about how the youths are getting influenced and ruining their career and creating public nuisance also."
The Bajrang Dal also said that it is concerned due to the latest drug issues in the city and has been coordinating with the police to raise awareness. "We were asked not to marry couples off, and to proceed without causing any trouble to the public," Prasad added. "We have also met with police officials to help us reach out to the public with our plea by keeping the concerns of youth in regards to recent drug issues in the city apart from Valentine's Day."
The organisation also said that it had visited several places in the city and spoken to the police as well as pub owners. "Three teams will be sent all over the city to keep an eye on the clubs and pubs in the city and action will be taken if they witness any party or event being conducted despite warning," Prasad added.
The owner of a popular club confirmed to DC that the Bajrang Dal has threatened them and asked them not to organise anything special on the day. "We were not intending to have anything special anyway for Valentine's," the manager of a pub said.
And considering the organisation is known to resort to violence on several instances, the police has said that it would maintain a tight vigil in these areas. "We will be following the same protocol as last year. By default, we have 23 teams deputed in the Jubilee Hills area, where the concerned official will make sure that pubs close by midnight," said Police Inspector P. Chandra Shekar of the Jubilee Hills police.