Lovers in Delhi could find their date plagued by a sense of unease tomorrow, after Hindu extremists threatened to film covertly and upload footage of unmarried couples seen kissing in public.
Activists belonging to a group called Sri Ram Sena issued the warning ahead of Valentine's Day, which it views as a direct threat to traditional Indian values and a catalyst for sexual misdemeanour. Instead, the group says, young unmarried couples should mark the traditional Hindu festival of Basant Panchami, get themselves married, or simply stay indoors.
"We won't allow our culture to be hijacked by foreign multinationals who have introduced concepts like Valentine's Day just to sell cards," said its spokesman, Sunil Tyagi. The group plans to equip its members with cameras to film couples in action. "When we upload such footage on YouTube, the couples will learn their mistake."
The threats are likely to be greeted with scepticism. Valentine's Day, which is still in its infancy, has grown in stature among India's burgeoning young consumer society. Yet it polarises opinion. In Chennai, some hotels refuse to advertise Valentine's Day packages so as not to attract attention from Hindu extremists.