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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Indian students face cuddle ban
Courting couple in Pune
Couples say they are constantly harrassed
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By Shaikh Azizur Rahman
in Bombay

An Indian university has declared its campus a strict "no love" zone, declaring a ban on kissing and hand-holding on its grounds.

Handing them over to the police just because they are found kissing or cuddling is a bit too much of a punishment

Student Milind Verma

The vice chancellor of western India's Pune university, Ashok Kolaskar, says courting couples could damage the reputation and social values of the 100-year-old institution.

"Action will be taken against couples found holding hands, kissing or indulging in any form of public display of affection," warns a notice signed by the Mr Kolaskar.

The sprawling 411-acre grounds with their lawns, trees and shady spots even attract young lovers from outside who masquerade as students to get into the campus.

"In the absence of a proper order we could not take any action so far," said Suresh Bhai Desai, a security officer at the university.

'Not obscene'

Couples at the campus, including the university students, say they want places to meet, talk and kiss without being harassed by the police.

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

"Unlike the city parks the university campus is even free from voyeurs. It is safer and more comfortable a place for us," said one student, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"If a boy and a girl are found holding each other's hands or sitting close to each other, the university should not take exception to it," said social science student, Rakesh Sarode.

"It is not obscene," he added.

Another student, Milind Verma, suggested that couples caught in compromising situations should just get a stern warning.

"Handing them over to the police just because they are found kissing or cuddling is a bit too much of a punishment," he said.

Entwined bodies

But not every student disagrees with the vice chancellor's hardline stance.

Young couple
Some say the ban will be difficult to enforce

"During class-breaks on a stroll in the campus very often we stumble on entwined bodies in carnal positions," said student Angela Pires.

"What do these people think - do they want to turn the university into a love hotel?" she said.

Although the vice chancellor says that he will not tolerate "indecent love-making" on the campus, some say his ban will be difficult to implement.

"We can stop the outside couples from entering the university," said Mr Desai.

"But it is difficult to take action against our own students; they can immobilise the university by staging a massive demonstration," he said.

"After all, the courting students and their supporter friends far outnumber the students who oppose the intimacy of lovers in the campus."

See also:

26 Mar 02 | South Asia
Calcutta quashes 'love zone'
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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