The video of the incident has triggered a barrage of criticism against the Kerala police.
- Kerala Police chief Loknath Behera said he had ordered an inquiry
- Vishnu and Aarathi had live streamed their harassment by two cops
- The policewomen had accused the couple of vulgarity and fined them
Moral policing by two constables, which created a stir after being live-streamed on Facebook by the couple they targeted, has left the Kerala Police red-faced. The state police chief today admitted that he wished "it had not happened" and public display of affection, while frowned upon by society, is definitely not illegal. The couple, who were targeted around 11 in the morning exactly a week after Valentine's Day, had some tough questions for the police. But instead of responding, the police forced them to pay a fine for indulging in "vulgarity" in a public place.
"As the state police chief, I have ordered an inquiry," Loknath Behera told NDTV. "No one has the right to disturb or harass any couple anywhere, more so in public places. In our country, we impose self-restraint on Public Display of Affection due to our culture and tradition, though there is no legal ban on PDA."
Vishnu SS, 24 and Aarathy SA, 23, the couple in question, say they had not indulged in any vulgarity.
"We were sitting in the park and his arm was around my shoulder," said Aarathy. The constables, she said, asked whether they were married or not. Answered in the negative, they said they would not "endorse" such behaviour, she added.
Explaining why they decided to make the matter public, Vishnu said: "Right from the start they were accusing us of being vulgar. When asked about what vulgarism we are showing, they called someone on phone and said we are kissing. So I was forced to go live on Facebook."
"Having someone's arm on my shoulder is not wrong. Booking people for as small a reason as this has to stop," said Aarthy, adding that they decided to take on the police since they were getting married anyway.
Vishnu's live-streamed video triggered a barrage of criticism against the police on Facebook. Incidents of moral policing and harassment of couples on roads and public parks are reported every year around Valentines' Day, but most perpetrators are found to be locals toughs belonging to certain groups. There have been very few instances of police involvement in such incidents.