New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS): Right-wing groups who have been known to play spoilsport each Valentine's Day have said that this year they will let Feb 14 pass and only launch a helpline for women in distress from Wednesday.
"There will be no protests or demonstrations against Valentine's Day. At the same time, youngsters should behave decently. As a new initiative this year, we have started a new helpline 011-23616372 to help women in distress. We will provide all support to such women," Vinod Bansal, spokesperson, Viswa Hind Parishad (VHP), told IANS.
"The helpline is available round the clock. Durga Vahini and Bajrang Dal, youth wings of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, will attend to calls. If an untoward incident is reported, we will alert the nearest police station," Bansal said.
The right-wing groups said they had no objections to the celebrations of Valentine's Day. "We used to tell young couples to get married, otherwise we would hand them over to police or parents. For the past few years, we have suppressed our opposition to Valentine's Day celebrations. We don't want our young people to ape the West and bring disgrace on our culture," Ravindra Negi, a Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena (RSS) activist told IANS, as he handed out flyers at Connaught Place, asking young people to refrain from celebrating Valentine's Day.
In the past, Hindu radicals usually kept vigil at parks, restaurants and other places on the day, and occasionally went on the rampage, attacking pubs and greeting card shops to prevent young people from celebrating the special day dedicated to love.
"We are not going for any demonstrations. What is the use of protesting when our protests won't stop celebrations? We just end up getting a bad reputation," Sanjay Sharma, a Shiv Sena member, said.
"It's not as if we are doing any moral policing. We urge pubs, restaurants and hotel managements not to organise special events on Feb 14, and to prevent vulgar dances in their premises," Bansal said.
Jai Bhagwan Goyal of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said that Valentine's Day was used as an occasion for loot by multinational companies: "Valentine's Day is just a gimmick. Multi-national companies loot money from young consumers, and encourage expensive gifting. People buy cards, flowers, jewellery, chocolates or mobile phones, and young people spend lakhs on this particular day," Goyal told IANS.
According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), the expenditure during Valentine's week in India is a whopping at $27 million (Rs.15,000 crore). The estimate was based on a survey of 800 executives in major metropolitan cities and 1,000 students from 150 educations.