BANGALORE –– Human rights activist Rachita Taneja, the organizer of the planned “Kiss of Love" demonstration in Bangalore, has backed out of the event following threats made against her on social media. A new committee has been formed to organize the event.
Also Read: Right-Wingers Threaten to Attack Participants in 'Kiss of Love' Event in Bangalore
Taneja told The SoftCopy on Thursday, “I have been receiving threats from various organizations that if I continue with the event, I’ll be inviting violence.”
A status update on the event’s Facebook page, Kiss of Love Bangalore, posted Thursday afternoon condemned “the open threats of violence and sexual harassment directed against” Taneja.
Members of a right-wing nationalist umbrella group protested outside the Police Commissioner’s Office on Infantry Road on Tuesday, threatening violence against participants in “Kiss of Love.”
Akhila Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha held the protest to seek a stay order in respect of the event, protesters said. They threatened to physically assault participants in the event, originally scheduled for Saturday, but since postponed until permission to hold it is obtained from the police.
A senior party member, Rajesh Padvardhan, told The SoftCopy that initiatives such as “Kiss of Love,” which started in Kerala, are “against Indian culture,” and the group would not let such events happen.
“We were informed about the organization of kiss of love by some Christian missionaries on Saturday,” he said. “It is the same organization that organized kiss of love in Kerala.”
“Akhila Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha is very much concerned about Indian culture, and we will not sit quietly while any such incidents happen in the country,” he added.
Padvardhan said any disturbances involving Akhila Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha as a result of the kiss of love event in Bangalore would be the responsibility of the police department and the Home Ministry.
“We will also raise heavy protests against the police commissioner as well as the home minister if kiss of love is organized in Bangalore,” Padvardhan said.
He said Akhila Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha’s raison d'être is to achieve “Akhanda Hindu Raj” (absolute Hindu rule) in the nation, "and culture plays a very important role in this."
“The protest is a clear warning of an attack on the organizers of kiss of love,” he said.
The police commissioner declined to comment.
In a press release posted on Kiss of Love Bangalore early Friday, the organizers said: “A short word to those who say that this is not our culture. Our literature and poetry has celebrated the expression of love. One of the earliest recorded instance of a kiss is in the epic Mahabharatha (where Rishyashrina kisses Vaishali). In fact some anthropologists believe that kissing originated in India and it got passed on to the rest of the world, when Alexander came here with his army.”
(This story originally ran in The SoftCopy, a news website published by the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media.)