Trust Shiv Sena to plan something ridiculous for Valentine's Day

The party known to indulge in casual vandalism and mob violence has taken things one step ahead.

 |  3-minute read |   13-02-2018
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Long back on Twitter, a user noted that the words “So, Valentine’s Day” are the anagram for “Sena’s violent day”. This observation could not have been more apt. As per multiple news reports, members of Shiv Sena in Muzaffarnagar conducted a “lathi puja (stick worship)” on February 11, days before the “day of love”, declaring that these “purified” sticks would be used to teach a lesson to couples who dare to engage in public display of affection.

The romantic history of Valentine’s Day celebrations and right-wing Hindu groups like Shiv Sena, Shriram Sene, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Mahasabha and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is quite toxic. Every year, members of one of the many “Senas” (or all of them) decide that a celebration of love outside of marriage is harmful for the nation’s cultural values and proceed to attack and harass couples — incidentally that is not against our culture at all. They beat up couples, they force them to marry, they raid pubs and bars, they burn pink Valentine’s Day cards and they talk about Hindu culture and tradition.

This year, Shiv Sena, a party known to indulge in casual vandalism and mob violence has taken things up a notch: they are seeking god’s blessings before they can propagate god’s message of punishing teenagers who hold hands in public.

shiv-sena-1_021218061936.jpgShiv Sena members burning Valentine's Day cards in Delhi, 2009. [Photo: Reuters]

The Times of India quotes Lalit Mohan Sharma, the vice-president of the Uttar Pradesh Shiv Sena, saying: "Our workers will visit restaurants and hotels and conduct checks. We have also warned owners of such establishments not to organise Valentine's Day events. There could be a risk of property damage, for which the owners themselves will be responsible."

It takes a certain amount of gall for a political party to threaten establishments with vandalism, while casually reminding them that if damage does occur, it will be at their own risk. But it doesn’t end there. Lokesh Saini, another member of the party, added: "Celebration of Valentine's Day increases the occurrence of love jihad. This is not our culture. Our people will be deployed in parks and schools. If we find someone in an objectionable position, we will teach him a lesson."

shiv-sena-2_021218062534.jpgShiv Sena members burning Valentine's Day cards in Delhi, 2009. [Photo: Reuters]

In Uttar Pradesh, almost everything seems to boil down to communal politics. It is then not surprising at all that Valentine’s Day and the false bogey of “Love Jihad” — the belief that Muslim men in India are conspiring to convert Hindu women by ensnaring and subsequently marrying them — have found a common opposition.

Not long ago, a CNN News18 report highlighted the techniques utilised by Hindu groups to nip “love jihad” in the bud. The report said that Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has set up a network of spies who work as restaurant employees across Western UP, whose job is to tip off the organisations about any potential relationship between “a suspicious Muslim man and a Hindu girl”.

While the police have said that they will not let anyone take the law in their hands, it is a bit much to expect any real effective law enforcement against couple-beating-goons in UP when the state has its own moral policing mechanism in place in the form of anti-Romeo squads — teams of policemen deployed to identify eve teasers and troublemakers in a crowd — who have been accused of harassing law-abiding citizens under the garb of vigilance and protection.

Also read: Have questions over Rafale deal made Nirmala Sitharaman lose her sheen? 

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Pathikrit Sanyal Pathikrit Sanyal @bucketheadcase

The author is a culture writer who likes talking about the internet, memes, privacy and all things pop culture.

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