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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 11:45 GMT
Militant Hindu Valentine threat
Shiv Sena activists
Shiv Sena activists will target Valentine's Day celebrations
A hardline Hindu leader has threatened to disrupt Valentine's Day in India saying it is against his culture.

Bal Thackeray, who heads the hardline Shiv Sena, has ordered his party activists to target celebrations in India's commercial capital, Bombay.


This shameless festival... is totally contrary to Indian culture

Bal Thackeray
Other right-wing Hindu organisations have attacked shops selling Valentine's Day cards in the northern city of Kanpur.

Mr Thackeray said the day was a conspiracy by foreign companies to sell their products in India.

"This shameless festival has been celebrated by our young people for the last 10 years, but it is totally contrary to Indian culture," he said in an article in his party paper, Samna.

"We should focus on good work, good thoughts, love and harmony in our society, and not let such Western culture spoil us," Mr Thackeray said.

Couple in Bombay
Valentine's Day is popular with young urbanites
Shiv Sena activists say they plan to target beach and garden parties and other festivities in Bombay.

"If the people don't get his message, we'll obey his orders and disrupt Valentine's Day events," party official, Vinayak Raut, was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

"It's different from our Hindu culture and is corrupting the minds of young teenagers," he added.

Violence

On Sunday, members of the hardline Hindu Bajrang Dal and Hindu Jagran Manch attacked shops selling Valentine's Day cards in an upmarket area of Kanpur.

They said they would burn the cards which they alleged were "loaded with nudity and sex".

The Uttar Pradesh state, in which Kanpur is located, recently outlawed beauty pageants which they said were vulgar and demeaning to women.

Valentine's Day was virtually unknown in India until a few years ago, but it has now become very popular among urban youth.

It has also become big business, as shops, restaurants and florists cash in on its appeal.

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See also:

19 Jul 00 | South Asia
Profile: Bombay's militant voice
14 Feb 00 | South Asia
India takes Valentine's Day to heart
15 Jul 00 | South Asia
Hindu militant faces court
28 Jul 99 | South Asia
Poll ban for Hindu leader
04 Feb 00 | South Asia
Bangalore's Valentine bloom
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