Hardline Hindu and Muslim groups burned Valentine’s Day greeting cards on Tuesday and held protests across India against celebrating the festival of love, saying it was a Western import that spread immorality.
Saint Valentine’s Day has become increasingly popular in India in recent years, a trend led by retailers who do healthy business selling heart-shaped balloons and fluffy teddy bears.
But the growing popularity of the day in officially secular, but mainly Hindu India has also sparked protests which have sometimes turned violent.
On Tuesday, protests were held in the capital New Delhi, some towns in the country’s south and the only Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir, where an Islamic insurgency has raged since 1989.
About two dozen women separatists, veiled in black from head to toe, rummaged shops and burnt Valentine’s Day cards in Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer capital, witnesses said.
“Valentine’s Day spreads immorality among the youth,” Asiya Andrabi of the Dukhtaran-e-Milat (Daughters of the Muslim Faith), a group of women separatists, said in a statement.
“We appeal to our children to stay away from this western culture.”
In Bangalore, India’s technology capital, as well as Hubli town, both located in the southern state of Karnataka, groups of Hindu nationalists burnt a big heart-shaped card.
About 50 Hindu activists wearing holy saffron-colored scarves held a noisy protest in a popular market near the Delhi University campus, a Reuters photographer said.
They burnt greeting cards which they were carrying and shouted “Down with Valentine’s Day.”