KOCHI: Cops, wary of the groups opposed to the event, arrested the ‘Kiss of Love’ protesters numbering around 50 even before they could assemble at the ground zero of liplock - Marine Drive - but miserably failed to contain the motley crowd of curious onlookers and flag-weaving anti-kiss activists.
Some couples and Kiss of Love campaigners were seen kissing in defiance, once they were detained by the police and bundled into the waiting police vans, much to the delight of onlookers and waiting media crew. The smooch by Rahul Pashupalan and Rashmi - a real life couple and the main organisers of the event - went viral in social media within minutes. They were later released, but some of them alleged that they were beaten up by the police in the van and at the Thevara police station where they were held. The event was supposed to begin at 5 pm, but an hour before the event hundreds of anti-kiss protesters had assembled at the Marine Drive. The police had to resort to caning to disperse the crowd of anti-kiss protesters including those belonging to several Hindu organisations like the Shiv Sena and Muslim outfits like the SDPI, who shouted slogans threatening the ‘Kiss of Love’ campaigners. The police resorted to caning when the behaviour of the crowd got out of hand. People, who had thronged even the tree-tops to watch the spectacle, ran helter-skelter causing damage to a fence.
Ramesh Chennithala in a Facebook post said that the police resorted to pre-emptive arrest because they were concerned by the safety of ‘Kiss of Love’ campaigners including the kids and girls among them.
Once the dust settled, some couples were seen pecking the cheek of their beloved braving the threats aired by protesters. Some of the girls had to use pepper spray when the activists allegedly belonging to Shiv Sena and Swachh Bharat tried to attack them.
While some said violent protest against the event in itself is proof of its success, others suggested it could have been more organised, considering the organisations support enjoyed by conservative outfits here.