So, in the red corner, we have Sri Rama Sene, Bajrang Dal, VHP, RSS and sundry politicians. In the Blue corner, we have middle and upper-middle class youth, software professionals, Archies and restaurants, Renuka Chowdhary, consumerism and puppy love. Who will win?
The answer, surprisingly, is everyone.
The battle cry has been sounded by Sri Rama Sene chief Pravin Muthalik, and there has been a full-throated response from our heroine of the day, Renuka Chowdhary.
Pravin Muthalik warns all Valentine’s Day lovers that they would patrol the streets of Mangalore, protest against any couple found having fun on Valentine’s Day, and take them to a sub-registrar’s office and marry them off to each other. Probably after delivering a flying kick to the guy, and a whack on the head to the girl as we all saw at Pub Amnesia in Mangalore a few days back. Pravin Muthalik himself is a senior citizen, and obviously he can’t deliver such flying kicks. He is too told, and too fat for that. Therefore, the Sri Rama Sene would employ the services of young people – reported to be coolies and drivers – to more upper class yuppie youngsters whose masculinity usually does not extend beyong typing macho, angry comments on website news pages.
Unperturbed by the recent attacks on women by his Sri rama Sene members, and the outraged reactions it got nationwide, Pramod Mutalik expresses his thoughts about the valentine day,” We are going to protest against Valentine’s Day. We have been opposing it not just this time but have been opposing it for the last 10 years. Let them celebrate it in the church — not outside in society. They can do this in their church or in their homes. We are also requesting those printing Valentine’s Day cards not to do so this time.”
Pramod Mutalik, founder of the Sri Rama Sene who was arrested, jailed and bailed in three seperate cases after the Mangalore Pub Amnesia attacks, considers the celebration of valentine’s day against the ‘Indian culture’. He addressed his party members on Wednesday wherein they came out with a plan stating that five teams will roam around Bangalore with a video camera and a turmeric stub. The turmeric stub would be used to poke you in the eye, and the video camera will be bashed on your head if you don’t comply with the Sene team’s dictats.
If any unmarried couples are found displaying affection in public or dating on Valentine’s Day, they will be made to wed on the spot. Last we heard, several unmarried couples from across India whose parents were in opposition to their marriage are making their way to Mangalore in buses and trains to avail of the services offered by the Pravin Muthalik’s Sri Rama Sene.
It would all be done in the manner the Sene considers proper. After the mandatory flying kicking and some molestation strictly according to Indian culture, the offending couple would be, in the words of T S Vasanth Kumar Bhavani, Sene’s Bangalore city president,”taken to a sub-registrar’s office to solemnize the marriage.” We don’t think couples in true love would mind the kicking and groping – its just a small sacrifice for love.
The Sri Rama Sene probably is the most progressive thing that has happend to Mangalore. Their forced marriage plan does not distinguish between castes, religions and hopefully genders. As caste is one of the major impediments to love marriages in India, Pravin Muthalik’s Sri Rama Sene would erase it at one shot on Valentine’s Day – and complaining parents would not know what hit them as their children come back home smiling from their forced inter-caste marriage, if a little worse for the wear.
We also hear that the said Valentine’s Day forced marriages would only apply to Hindus, as there is no way the Sri Rama Sene would allow dating couples, of which one party is a Christian or a Muslim and the other Hindu, to marry. In such cases, only the flying kicks and gropings would apply.
Mangalore’s Muslim and Christian youth have been reported as very agitated at such developments. The small gay community in Mangalore too have voiced their protest, and demanded the Sene include them in their Valentine’s day marriage ceremonies.
Karnata CM BS Yediyurappa has been quite silent on the Valentine’s day threats, and so has been his home minister Acharya. A few words of encouragement came from S Harish, Bangalore city president, BJP. Reposing in the police to maintain law and order, he said, “No confrontation with the Sri Rama Sene or any other organizations on February 14. The law of the land should prevail. We will urge the police to maintain law and order on that day.” Usually, that means the Sene is free to do what it wants, and the police and the BJP would remain free to what they want – and the government would take any action only if there is a hue and cry, and unfortunate stuff such as the Sene accidentally marrying off off some RSS leader’s daughter to some visiting Arab Jihadi.
Renuka Chowdhary has said that if people like the Sene take the law into their own hands, the way to counter it is by a “Pub Bharo” andolan. If young people go to pubs in large groups, no one would dare attack them, goes her logic. What Renuka Chowdhary has not taken into account, though, is the sheer desperation of the Sri Rama Sene and their supporters to get close to upper class women wearing the kind of clothes they usually see only in Kannada films. There is no way the Sri Rama Sene can resist the pull of large numbers of women in an enclosed space, and they would make their way in, even at the cost of serious physical damage. Culture would be protected, even at the cost of their lives, said several Sene activists hanging around local markets sticking anti-Valentine’s day posters on walls.
D K Shiva Kumar, KPCC working president said, “We will give all protection to those celebrating Valentine’s Day. I will ask my party workers to fan out in Bangalore and see that the Sri Rama Sene does not create problems”. This sure is a comforting statement for those wishing to go out for the day.
There is one more factor that would ensure the failure of Renuka Chowdhary’s pub bharo andolan on Valentine’s Day. Even in a group, the youngsters who go to pubs are not driven by patriotism and nationalistic fervour which drives the Sri Rama Sene. Also, their party shirts would get ruined.
Mutalik, who is out on a conditional bail the Mangalore pub incident on Jan. 24, told reporters his organization would approach Governor Rameshwar Thakur, CM B S Yeddyurappa, home minister V S Acharya and Bangalore police commissioner to request their support. There is no need for that though, as the Karnataka CM and VS Acharya have already spoken out that they would prefer to see the pub culture end.
We would like to wish all the about-to-be-forcibly-married couples in Mangalore all the best for a happy married life after this Valentine’s Day. And here is some friendly advice: Boys, please ensure that you take the kicks on your shoulder, upper back or butt as they are more likely to hold up. Girls, wear thick jackets so you do not particularly feel the strong hands of the Sri Rama Sene, and purchase tough leather belts which would ensure the jeans stay on as you ar taken to the sub-registrar’s officer. After all, it would not do to be naked waist-down on your wedding day, especially when the media would be there to capture the glorious occasion to be telecast on national TV!