The ‘Kiss of Love’ protest against moral policing which started off in Kerala and later spread to other parts of the country, is hogging the limelight nowadays.
The non-violent protest was sparked off when Jai Hind, the TV channel owned by the Congress broadcast an exclusive report on the alleged immoral activities in the parking space of Downtown Café, in Kozhikode along with footages of couples. A mob of attackers, later identified as Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists, vandalized the café after the report was released. Following this, a group of youths called for a protest against the moral policing incidents by organizing public events of kissing through a Facebook page ‘Kiss of Love’ and the movement received wide spread support from all over the state. It later spread to Kochi, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kozhikode.
The movement was heavily opposed by various Right wing religious and political outfits, mainly the BJP Yuva Morcha, VHP, Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal who threatened to strip the protestors naked in public if they went ahead with the protest. The groups opposing the protest claimed that “public display of affection” was against the Indian culture and the law of the land. The protest was impaired by violence with the spectators who came to get a glimpse of the event as well as those who came to protest against the movement getting blows from the police and creating a tense situation. Many of them were taken into custody including the passerby and the activists who were present at the event to express their solidarity. The police were accused of being more brutal than the Right wing assailants.
The social media have always played a vital role not only in expressing the collective anger and frustration of the public towards such incidents but also towards the failure of the government in taking the required steps in the matter. The government was pressurized to amend the weak criminal laws and bring harsher punishments following widespread protests in and out of the social media after the 2012 gang rape of a student in Delhi. The role of social media in bringing about justice to the victims should not be neglected. The reports about escalating sexual abuses against women in the American Universities and in the US military are other eye openers in this direction and only a small percentage of truth is revealed to the outside world.
There have been several incidents of moral policing in the state that triggered the kissing protest. Not even the children aged 1-1.5 months are spared by the assailants let alone the girls and the women. There have been shocking incidents of senior children raping the small children studying in lower classes of the same school. The levels of morality and ethical values are diminishing especially with today’s youth. In such a dangerous scenario, the model set by the ‘Kiss of Love’ protestors is akin to any criminal offence that would mislead them and therefore should be brought under control. Carrying out obscene acts in public and indulging in immoral acts in the name of exercising the right to freedom of expression and democracy doesn’t befit people who belong to a cultured and civilized society.