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V-day marked with roses, arrests, celebrations

Source PTI With roses, satire, arrests and celebrations, Valentine's Day was marked across the country today, as the police beefed up security to ensure that the universal festival of love was not marred by groups that believed it went against Indian traditions.

While couples thronged restaurants, pubs, cinema halls and parks in cities and towns to celebrate the day -- which coincided with the Hindu festival of Shivratri this year -- police said they had taken measures to ensure that there was no violence against courting couples.

For several years now, far-right groups have been protesting against the festival which they believe celebrates western values and violates Indian tradition. Police said some people had been detained in a bid to prevent violence.

In Ahmedabad, ten activists of the VHP and its affiliate Bajrang Dal were detained after they allegedly tried to intimidate couples at the Sabarmati Riverfront.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad claimed it had asked the people to leave the spot, a popular haunt of the young, and that its members did not attack anyone.

The police reached the waterfront and took the men into custody for allegedly threatening the couples.

In some videos -- the veracity of which could not be independently established -- people carrying saffron flags and holding sticks were seen forcing couples to leave the spot.

In Bhubaneswar, the police took 30 activists of the Kalinga Sena into preventive custody, apprehending trouble by the local outfit.

The Sena had yesterday threatened to raid parks and malls in the city to stop couples from celebrating what's treated as a day of love dedicated to Valentine, a 3rd-century Roman saint.

The activists were detained at Baramuda near the Kalinga Sena office when they were preparing to visit parks apparently in search of courting couples.

The police also deployed extra forces at malls and public places.

"We burnt effigies of (Saint) Valentine during the protests," said Kailash S, a Sena representative.

In Hyderabad, members of the Bajrang Dal staged demonstrations against V-Day celebrations and barged into a few pubs and restaurants in different parts of the city, demanding that there be no special programmes to mark the day.

The mood was festive in Kolkata, where Bangladesh rock icon James shared the stage with popular Indian singer Rupam Islam in a live concert to mark the day. Lyricist Anupam Roy, singers Sahana Bajpaie from London, Imon Chakraborty and Bangladesh's Oyshee were the others who regaled the audience.

In Delhi, a group of traders offered roses to passersby near municipal offices to draw their attention to problems posed by an ongoing sealing drive in the city.

The traders held placards and presented roses to people as part of the 'My Valentine-My Shop' protest, organised by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also voiced a message of love on the occasion.

At a call-in programme on the third anniversary of the Aam Aadmi Party government, Kejriwal said, "Nafrat ka jawab nafrat nahi, nafrat ko pyar aur mohabat se counter kiya ja sakta hai (Do not counter hatred with hatred, but with love)".

His message was in reply to a Delhi University student who wished the chief minister a happy Valentine's Day.

The Congress also jumped on to the V-Day bandwagon, with a satirical message on Twitter.

The post showed the colourful sketch of a young girl and a boy holding a heart each and sitting dolefully on the two ends of an enormous moustache sported by a man with a saffron scarf draped around his neck.

"This day and every day, we hope that love continues to win over hate," said the party which has accused the Saffron brigade of spreading hate in society.

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