Kochi: On International Women's Day, a group of people had a strange gift for the women in Kerala's Kochi. Armed with sticks, they raided the city's picturesque marine drive and heckled and chased away couples. Video footage aired by local television channels show the men holding a procession, carrying flags and banners. Midway, some of them break away and chase couples. One man is even seen shouting at and abusing the women. All of this was happening in the presence of the state police, who did not intervene.
As the news triggered outrage, six men were arrested. The police said they were Shiv Sena activists. One policeman has been suspended.
Lately, Kerala has witnessed several cases of moral policing - one even by the police.
Last month, a 22-year-old man was found hanging outside his home days after he and his woman friend were filmed, abused and attacked by a group of men on the beach in Kollam on Valentine's Day. The video had been put up on social media by a group of five youths, all of whom were arrested.
But on February 22, a couple took on the state police. As policewomen accused them of vulgarity at a public park in Thiruvananthapuram and fined them, the couple live-streamed the exchange on Facebook. In the video, Vishnu SS is heard asking, "Tell us what vulgur activity have we conducted? Did we kiss? Did we hug each other? You cannot harass us just because I have my hand on her shoulder".
State police chief Loknath Behera had condemned the police action.