Colombo, Jul 10: After the police arrested nearly 300 youngsters for indulging in 'indecent behaviour' such as holding hands and kissing in public, several have spoken out against what could be termed as moral policing.
"Can holding hands of a loved one be an offence?" Shenali, a student of a leading secondary school here, is quoted as questioning.
Speaking to a news agency, the student admitted that she was now refraining from meeting her boyfriend after the police took action.
"If police catch us, my parents would come to know of our relationship," she said.
Another student, identified as Samantha, said, "We are not from rich families to go to luxurious hotels to meet our lovers. We go to a park or a snack bar just to talk. Who says that holding hands in a bus is an indecent behaviour? It is pathetic."
When asked, the police said that they were forced to take this step on the complaints from elders and other citizens, who believed that the behaviour of the youngsters was against the culture and that the westernised behaviour was unacceptable.
"Kissing, cuddling and holding hands in public places are indecent behaviour," Xinhua quoted the police spokesman Preshantha Jayakody as saying.
"But the majority of these couples are school-going children and they come to certain places without their parents' knowledge. That is why we arrested them," he said.