Protests against Valentine’s Day in five places in Maharashtra
Mumbai: True to its call for protests on Valentine’s Day, the Shiv Sena went on the rampage terrorising couples, beating, threatening and humiliating them. Several incidents took place in as many as five places across Maharashtra. The State machinery, meanwhile, remained clueless and utterly ineffective.
The worst case of intimidation bordering on violence took place in Pune. Around 2.15 p.m., a group of Sena members entered the Peshwe Park. With their saffron flags, they beat up a youth and chased a couple. A police officer, who went to take stock of the situation, later said, “The area has greenery. A couple was chatting there when Sena members came to chase the two away. The girl asked them what right they had to command them. She then threw their flag, which they were brandishing at her. This angered the miscreants. The boy was beaten up.”
By evening, one Sena member was reportedly arrested in connection with the incident.
In another incident at Chowpatty in Pune, a couple was forcibly made to garland each other as in a wedding, a police source said. He spoke of another incident at an area known as ‘Love Point,’ where couples were chased away by Sena men. No case was registered in connection with these incidents as there were no complaints.
While blatant infringement of individual freedom went on in Pune, its Police Commissioner remained unreachable. Officers at the control room said Saturday was a holiday.
In Miraj village in Sangli district, a youth was made to “marry” a donkey, said a police source, who did not wish to be named. While the incident took place between 11.30 a.m. and 12 p.m. no case had been registered by 7.30 p.m.
Sena “protests” were also registered in Aurangabad where a youth’s face was reportedly blackened by members of the party’s student wing, the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena. Kolhapur and Nanded also saw Sena resistance. Sena members burnt greeting cards in Nanded, said Superintendent of Police R.K. Singhal.
The Nanded police took action against four Sena men under the Bombay Police Act.
Despite the Sena’s well-known disposition for creating a ruckus on Valentine’s Day, the police department was caught on the back foot on Saturday. None of the police control rooms in the districts where the incidents occurred had any information on them.
A local television channel ran footage of assault cases across the State. After around five incidents were televised for hours together, an official at the State police department’s control room said, “The situation is normal. No cases have been registered.”
On the eve of Valentine’s Day, Sena MP Sanjay Raut had told The Hindu, “We won’t do what the Ram Sene has done.” A day later, nothing was different.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan was reported as saying strict action would be taken against the perpetrators of the acts.
The day passed off peacefully in Mumbai.