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‘KISS OF LOVE’ IN INDIA MOVES FROM KERALA TO KOLKATA

KOLKATA, India - After Kochi, Kolkata has witnessed its own version of ‘Kiss of Love’ organised mostly by students of two universities to show solidarity against those affected by moral policing and to promote gender equality.
Forming human chains, holding placards, enacting skits and indulging in public displays of affection, students of the prestigious Jadavpur and Presidency universities hosted the “Kiss of Love” event in the city, to protest against much-derided moral policing.
Alleging the “rise of religious fundamentalism and fanaticism”, student activists participated in a protest rally in Jadavpur, while in north Kolkata, a large number of students of the Presidency University gathered in front of the iconic Indian Coffee House on College Street holding placards as a show of support for the movement that started in Kerala.
“The state or the country cannot dictate whether or not an individual can kiss in a public place or get into a relationship with a person of a different caste. We will do what we feel like,” one of the organisers, Bandana Mondal. 
“Kiss of Love” was meant to protest against the vandalism of the Downtown Cafe restaurant in Kozhikode by activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (Youth Brigade) claiming “immoral activities” were encouraged there.
In Kochi, as many as 80 people were arrested after they hit the streets to protest against police harassment and moral policing at public places.
“Love has no boundaries and it cannot be confined on the basis of gender, caste, religion. Irrespective of our sexes, we kissed each other as a mark of protest against the rising instances of moral policing,” Jadavpur student Nabottama Pal, one of the key organising members said.
  • Pal said plans were afoot to organise a “kiss of love” event involving students across the country.
  • “It is time to protest against encroachment on our personal liberties and freedom of expression. I want freedom to choose whom and where to kiss. It is individual right. To kiss is the highest form of affection and I should decide who will get it from me. So we are protesting against the moral policing. We don’t want to fight with them and we are trying to spread the message of love,” said a student who participated in the protest along with her brother.
  • “This protest is to show our solidarity with the movement which started in Kochi. We are in touch with the organisers in Kochi for guidance,” another student commented.
  • Though many agreed, that such one-day protests will not change anything as a section of society will always try to force people in the name of Indian culture and stop them from expressing themselves openly.
“The entire society has to come together or else people will try to curb our freedom. Such violence occurs in Mumbai during Valentine’s Day. Now people in Kerala are suffering. 
This trend to curve individual freedom has not entered Kolkata, but at times police is seen attacking couple who tend to express affection in public. This must stop,” another protester said.

Source: Agency
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