CHENNAI: A lot of hugs, many many kisses on many many cheeks and a few barely glimpsed, fleeting, now seen-now gone pecks on the lips - that is how IIT-Madras' students registered their protest against the "disturbing" trend of moral policing in the country.
In what would have been a striking protest had it been held on the crowded beach of the Marina, or the bustling streets of T Nagar perhaps, 70 odd students gathered in front of the Himalaya Mess inside their campus, sang songs, made a few speeches and then got up and hugged, kissed and pecked on record their stand on the issue.
But the 'Celebrating Love' event was not a 'protest' pointed out organisors. "This is not like the 'Kiss of Love' protests. That took place to take a stand against the incident that happened in Kochi. We took this opportunity to express solidarity with the protestors. But this is about celebrating love," said Arya Prakash, a member of the Chitabar Independent Student Collective, which organised the event.
So what exactly was Chintabar trying to do? Shouting a resounding No! to Moral Policing was the obvious answer.
“But we also wanted to open up a discourse on the subject among our student body. A discourse on Relationships, Love, Sex and Sexuality among students is necessary if this is to stop," declared Prakash.
"That is also why we did not consider holding this outside the campus. We want to start a discourse right here first," she added.
Reform not Revolution?
The event did not completely escape the frowning eyes of society though, even inside what could be termed as one of the more progressive campuses in the region. Barely seconds had passed after an initial round of hugs and kisses when a group of ‘progressive’ students showed up on the lawn.
“Why would you do something like this to protest? There are many other ways to do this. We may understand because we are educated but how will ‘India’ out there?” asked a hot faced young man.
His compatriot had earlier started to stop Prakash making her initial statement before he thought better of it.
“There were people cheering when you did ‘this’,” he added to Prakash. “That is what you are celebrating. How will people understand whether this is love or lust?,” asked another.
But the two young men were not allowed to ruin the ‘progressive’ image of themselves much further before other, better articulate and politically correct people stepped in.
“We are not against public displays of affection, they can do what they want. We agree with a lot of what they are saying. We are just saying they are going too fast. We are for reform, but they are for revolution,” concluded Anish Bhagwat.