Bengaluru: The final countdown has begun. Despite all the hullabaloo, the ‘Kiss of Love’ campaigners have dug in their heels, determined not to give in to the opposition. Interestingly, while cities like Kochi and Delhi managed to pull off the event with little fuss, Bengaluru with its progressive image, seems uncomfortable with this form of protest against the self-styled moral brigade that has not hesitated to use violence on occasions to prove its point.
While B.PAC CEO, Revathy Ashok is all for a symbolic protest, she doesn’t think the city needs to go this far. “Do we need to kiss to demonstrate our freedom? There are more important things we should be focusing on like women’s empowerment, educating men and sensitising society. Empowering the woman does not mean going around kissing. Nobody can stop us from doing anything, not even the moral police, but kissing is definitely not the way to show we are empowered,” she stresses.
Women’s activist and prominent advocate, Pramila Nesargi too is not in favour of the ‘Kiss of Love’ campaign as it takes the moral police too seriously, in her view.
“Such events give importance to elements like Pramod Mutalik (of the Sree Ram Sene). We need to protest against moral policing, but not at the cost of giving fanatics more than their share of attention. Bengaluru does not need the ‘Kiss of Love’ campaign to stand up against moral policing,” she asserts.
Defending the police’s reluctance to permit the event, former DG and IGP S.T. Ramesh says this is a protest it has never come across before. “The police is used to demonstrations, protests and strikes, but kissing in public as a form of protest is something it has never had to deal with before. Such incidents put it in a spot as
a large number of people could arrive at Town Hall only to see couples kiss. This could prove a big law and order problem,” he says, adding, “It’s a delicate issue and the police needs to be careful.”
‘Don’t need permission’
“We don’t need permission from the police to hold the protest,” says Danish Sheikh, a lawyer with the Alternative Law Forum and a Kiss of Love supporter. “According to The Licensing and Controlling of Assemblies and Processions (Bangalore City) Order of 2009, if there aren’t more than 250 people in a protest, it can go ahead without police permission,” he claims.
Mr Sheikh also believes the city police cannot deny the campaigners permission on the ground of obscenity. “What is obscenity? Under section 292 of the IPC, any material a book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or object is deemed to be obscene if it is lascivious. but our protest is political in nature. When Manorama was raped and murdered in the northeast, women protested naked against the Army. Technically, this would be obscene, but it was a political protest and hence not considered so,” he argues.
As for public display of affection, he says it can refer to holding hands in public, kissing on the cheek, and so on. “It is not a legal concept and no one can regulate it,” he asserts.