Kerala

Protests held in Kochi against moral policing

Protesters at Marine Drive in Kochi on Thursday.

Protesters at Marine Drive in Kochi on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Several pairs locked lips at Marine Drive in Kochi on Thursday evening, marking the culmination of day- long protests by different groups against an incident of moral policing in which Shiv Sena activists had caned and chased away couples from the scenic waterfront the previous day even as policemen watched.

Activists from a clutch of organisations, including Kiss of Love, People Against Fascism and the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, began their protest around 4 p.m. with a street play against the self-proclaimed moral police. The play suddenly turned into a display of affection with a couple rolling on the ground and kissing, as the crowd cheered them on.

“We stand together, against hate in society and nothing will douse the fire in our hearts,” declared Lasar Shine, writer and Kiss of Love activist, soon afterwards. He said the protest was meant to counter the “hate and intolerance in the form of racism, sexism and discrimination against the gender minorities.”

The activist were seen sporting flowers on their hair and wore coloured masks. Many also brought origami pieces and coloured balloons.

Youth take part in a protest in Kozikode city on Thursday against moral policing at Marine drive in Kochi.

Youth take part in a protest in Kozikode city on Thursday against moral policing at Marine drive in Kochi.   | Photo Credit: S. Ramesh Kurup

 

While Kalakakshi, an artist collective, came up with kiss-in umbrellas – evocative of couples perched on the benches along the waterfront walkway here, Oraali, an alternative folk rock band from Thrissur, staged a protest performance.

Members of the LGBT community, who gathered at the venue in support to the kissing protest, raised slogans against alleged police discrimination towards them and demanded the withdrawal of Section 377 from the Indian Penal Code.

Meanwhile, the venue witnessed some tense moments as a group of BJP activists marched along the walkway, raising slogans against both the kissing protesters and the Shiv Sena. Prompt intervention by the police, who prevented the BJP activists from entering the venue, helped avert tension.

Earlier, activists of the Youth Congress also marched to the venue, which became the centre of protests all through the day starting with ones by DYFI and SFI activists in the morning. KSU activists had organised the sale of canes and brooms outside the City Police Commissioner’s office nearby.

Protesters at Kochi Marine Drive on Thursday.

Protesters at Kochi Marine Drive on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

A huge team of police personnel led by the City Police Commissioner was present. “There is no question of the police intervening as long as the protests pass off peacefully,” said M.P. Dinesh, Commissioner of Police.

 

Sena disassociates

The State unit of the Shiv Sena has attempted to disassociate itself from the attack on couples in Kochi on Wednesday.

Shiv Sena Kerala Rajya Pramukh Bhuvanachandran said the Sena did not subscribe to vigilante action.

The party had not sanctioned the protests nor could it “endorse” the caning of couples in Kochi. The Sena headquarters in Mumbai has been informed.

 

SHRC directive

The State Human Rights Commission on Thursday expressed deep concern over the caning of couples by Shiva Sena activists at Marine Drive on Wednesday.

SHRC acting chairperson P. Mohandas ordered the police to crackdown on such self-appointed groups from imposing social, religious and moral codes they deem to be right on citizens.

He has asked the State Police Chief to file a report on the incident within 30 days.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 11:50:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/they-lock-lips-in-protest-at-marine-drive/article17435944.ece

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