Protests, police take the fizz out of Kochi's 'Kiss of Love'

Protests, police take the fizz out of Kochi's 'Kiss of Love'

Kochi’s kiss with a new dissent against moral policing was cut short by cops and a flurry of protests on Sunday.

About 30 participants of the “Kiss of Love” campaign were detained before the event kicked off at Marine Drive in Kochi. But later, more supporters managed to evade one another and the police to kiss each other in a show of solidarity.

The campaigners were outnumbered by onlookers who had gathered at the venue hours ahead of the scheduled start of the event.

The police took a group of campaigners, including women, into preventive custody near the Ernakulam Law College building and shifted them to the Thevara police station ahead of the event even as another group of supporters reached the venue where they hugged and kissed each other, raised slogans and held placards with messages celebrating freedom to express love.

The police said campaigners were detained in the backdrop of possible retaliation by protesters. Couples among the campaigners kissed each other while they were being detained and moved into police vehicles.

Sangh outfits, apart from organisations including the Social Democratic Party of India and the Congress-affiliated Kerala Students Union came out in protest against the event.
The campaigners were released at 9 pm. Earlier, supporters of the campaign staged a protest near the police station. Rahul Pasupalan, a short film maker and lead campaigner for Kiss of Love, said the event had immense support from the people.

“The protests were expected… all progressive movements and revolutions have witnessed such protests. We are not backing down, the fight will definitely go on,” he told Deccan Herald.

Isolated assaults by protesters on some of the participants were reported. Some of the anti-kissing protesters even claimed that they had come to “clean up” the location. The police charged at the protesters and sections of a huge crowd before normalcy was restored after more than three hours around the Marine Drive that also witnessed traffic jams.

V T Balram, Congress MLA from Thrithala and backer of the campaign, termed the event a “success” because it managed to bring attention to the perils of moral policing. “It’s the event’s provocative nature that made it a success. At the same time, protests at the venue show the increasing grip of right-wing elements on our society,” he told Deccan Herald.

Kochi Mayor Tony Chammani said an unprepared police force led to inconvenience to the public. “There was indecision. The massive protests against the event also reflect what the society thinks about public display of affection. The police should have been better-equipped to handle a situation like this,” Chammani said.

‘Kiss of Love’ is a movement against moral policing initiated by Free Thinkers, a Facebook community. The campaigners later posted pictures of them kissing and celebrating at the police station. A message posted on their page said: “When your government wants to control your freedom to express love, kissing is revolution!”

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)