All major parks in Hyderabad were shut Thursday to prevent any untoward incident on Valentine's Day in view of threats by some rightwing Hindu groups.
Police directed municipal authorities to lock all big parks following threats by groups such as the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to 'counsel' and even forcibly marry couples seen in parks and other public places. They argue that the celebrating the day is against Indian culture.
Indira Park, Sundarayya Park, Lumbini Park, KBR National Park and other major parks in the city were locked. Officials of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) said the parks would remain closed till 4 p.m
The GHMC action came under criticism from some youth and student groups. Activists of All India Students' Federation (AISF) were arrested after they protested at Indira Park, demanding that police provide protection to couples.
Though rightwing groups have been threatening to disrupt celebrations every year, this is the first time that parks have been closed. Hundreds of people every day throng the parks, especially those located around the Hussain Sagar lake in the heart of the city.
Activists of Bajrang Dal conducted marriage of a couple in Kushaiguda area. The organisation claimed that the boy and the girl were seen moving around together They reportedly told the activists that their parents were opposing their plans to marry.
They were taken to a temple, where the marriage was performed.