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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 14:28 GMT
Calcutta quashes 'love zone'
Members of the Lovers Organisation for Voluntary Exhibition (LOVE)
Displays of public affections are still frowned upon in India
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By Jill McGivering
BBC South Asia correspondent

Police in the Indian city of Calcutta have thwarted a planned rally by young couples calling for a special "love zone".

Young woman buying Valentine's card
Young Indians are far more open about romance

The couples say they want somewhere to meet, talk and kiss in public without being harassed by the police.

Organisers hoped for about 200 couples.

In fact, about 30 people gathered for the protest, most of them teenagers.

Police prevented them from carrying out plans to march on city government offices and kiss there as a form of peaceful protest.

Courting couples

The event was organised by a group called the Lovers' Organisation for Voluntary Exhibition (LOVE), which is campaigning for areas of India's cities to be set aside for courting couples.

They say so-called love zones would make it possible for couples to meet and talk freely before marriage, as well as express affection.

But the city's mayor says Calcutta already has plenty of parks and he accuses the group of wanting a love-making zone - something no administration could accept.

Arranged marriages are still the norm in India, where displays of public affection, even between married couples, are frowned upon.

Men hold hands with other men in public and women with women but for a man and woman to walk hand in hand is still considered improper.

See also:

13 Feb 02 | Middle East
Cooling the ardour of Valentine's Day
14 Feb 01 | South Asia
Tough love for Indian Valentines
12 Feb 01 | South Asia
Militant Hindu Valentine threat
14 Feb 00 | South Asia
India takes Valentine's Day to heart
04 Feb 00 | South Asia
Bangalore's Valentine bloom
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