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Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Saturday, 14 February 2009

Valentine attackers held in India

Shiv Sena activists burn Valentine's Day cards in Jammu, India, on 14/2/09
Hardline groups say Valentine's Day symbolises Western corruption

Radical Hindus have been arrested in India for targeting young couples on Valentine's Day, police say.

The activists belong to Shiv Sena, a group accused of carrying out assaults that included clipping the hair and blackening the faces of young lovers.

Valentine's Day has become popular among young Indians in recent years. But public shows of affection are still generally frowned upon.

Hardline groups say Valentine's Day is a symbol of "cultural corruption".

Groups such as Shiv Sena say they are protecting Indian culture from Westernisation.

'Breach of peace'

Six arrests took place in the northern Indian city of Agra, home to the Taj Mahal - the monument built by Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved wife.

The protesters used scissors to cut the hair of overtly romantic couples in a nearby park, superintendent of police VP Ashok said.

"The six belonging to Shiv Sena group were arrested for causing a breach of the peace," he told The Associated Press news agency.

Meanwhile, the AFP news agency reported that five members of the same group were arrested in Delhi for threatening couples in a park.

Many couples had their faces blackened in western Aurangabad and northern Bijnaur, Reuters reports.

Such disruption of Valentine's Day by hardliners is becoming an annual event, and police this year were on high alert.

Another group vandalised a shop selling Valentine's cards and raided a restaurant in Indian Kashmir looking for romantic couples, the AP reports.

Protestors also burnt flowers and Valentine Day cards to mark their protest.



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