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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 16:21 GMT
Tough love for Indian Valentines
Hindu hardliners in India have attacked shops and restaurants in an attempt to disrupt Valentine's Day celebrations.
They smashed shop windows and burnt Valentine cards in protest against the day, which they said was against Hindu culture.
The authorities have stepped up security around the country and the University of Lucknow shut down amid fears of violence.
Activists from the hardline Shiv Sena party attacked the busy fast-food Wimpy restaurant in Delhi, throwing chairs and smashing plants.
The restaurant was hurriedly shut as terrified customers left.
Shops selling Valentine cards were also attacked in several other cities including Bombay, Bhopal, Pune and Bareilly.
In the northern city of Benaras, activists chopped the hair of several celebrating youths and blackened their faces, according to the Press Trust of India.
The campaign has been spearheaded by Bal Thackeray, the firebrand leader of the Shiv Sena.
"This shameless festival has been celebrated by our young people for the last 10 years," Mr Thackeray wrote in Shiv Sena's Saamna newspaper.
"But it is totally contrary to Indian culture," he added.
In Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, university authorities said it was a "unanimous view" that they should close for the day.
Police and paramilitary troops were deployed across the state to prevent confrontation between Hindu activists and love-struck punters.
These threats have dismayed many amorous young Indians eager to send gifts and cards on a day which has become extremely popular in India.
Many simply ignored the warnings as they bought roses and heart-shaped balloons.
"This occasion comes just once a year, why shouldn't we celebrate?" asked Nidhi Mehra, a Bombay college student.
"Do I look like I care about Shiv Sena?" queried Hemant Patodia, as he cuddled his girlfriend in Delhi's central Connaught Place shopping district.