Kiss of love 2.0 Malabar, Kerala’s second edition of public kissing protest against moral policing held in the northern city of Kozhikode on Sunday afternoon, somehow managed to overcome the attacks by groups of self-styled moralists who had threatened to strip the kissers naked and the confused handling of the situation by the police.
About 60 kissers were taken into custody by the police who at one stage even brought the main venue, the Moffusil Bus Stand, under limited prohibitory orders even as activists of a moralists’ group, the Hanuman Sena, attacked the protestors at wherever they got a chance. Several Sena activists were also held. The event was organized by a Facebook forum, Kiss in the Street.
As far as the police were concerned, the kissing protest was like some kind of guerilla warfare as the event took place at various centres in the city simultaneously, coping up with which was difficult for the cops. As a consequence, there were at least two cases where the confused police took into custody couples who were just passengers who had arrived at the bus stand.
Despite the attacks by the moralists and the determination of the police to disrupt the kissing protest, the Kiss of love activists somehow made the event a success as kissers and supporters appeared in groups at places like SM Streets and Mananchira Square other than the Moffusil Bus Stand at the same time.
Among those who faced the ire of the moralists were several cultural personalities like noted film script-writer Didi Damodaran and her husband Prem Chand who had arrived at the famous SM Street in the city to declare solidarity with the kissers. “I am sure that this senseless opposition to genuine expressions of human love would die down soon,” Didi Damodaran said.
The police’s confusion became obvious when they took into custody renowned filmmaker Jayan Cherian who was standing outside the Moffusil Bus Stand talking to friends and newsmen. “I explained my position to the police. But they told me that I could not stay there and made me get into the vehicle. At the police station, my mobile phone was taken away,” he said.
The first event of public kissing protest against moral policing in Kerala was held at Kochi on November 2. That event had almost reached the level of a riot with thousands of moralists belonging to various political and religious groups opposing it physically and the police using canes several times against kissers, moralists and onlookers.
The Kozhikode police had from the very beginning taken a position that they had no formal information about the kissing protest and therefore they need not make any special preparations but would interfere as the situation demanded if there was trouble which could threaten the law and order.
“This was the biggest irresponsibility the police had shown,” said Civic Chandran, writer and cultural leader. “If there is a peaceful and rightful protest and if there are groups that descend on it violently, it is the responsibility of the police to protect the former. But what the police did here was to oppose the peaceful protestors,” he said.