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Lessons in love, laughter and living in Modi era

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    New Delhi, Feb 14: Happy Valentine's Day to all!

    Love is tricky and risky, these days. It turns dangerous if we express it openly. Recently, at the Karachi Literature Festival in Pakistan when suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar professed his love for the country, in return he received loathing and criticism in India.

    love

    "How dare Aiyar can love Pakistan, the enemy nation spreading terror in India?" His own party, the Congress, under whose wings the former Union minister learnt the ropes of politics and gave decades of his life, wants him to be expelled now.

    See, you have to be careful about whom you love and hate. If you are a Hindu, especially a woman, you can't let a Muslim person rule your heart, or else it turns into "love jihad". Hadiya (previously known as Akhila) from Kerala paid a hefty price for loving and marrying a Muslim man.

    Earlier, the marriage of the 24-year-old medical student to Shafin Jahan was annulled by the Kerala High Court. In January, the Supreme Court observed orally that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) cannot probe the "legitimacy" of the marriage of Hadiya.

    "She can choose independently. She is 24 years old," the SC bench stated. The apex court's observation provides a ray of hope to Hadiya, Shafin and those who dare to love under the shadow of Hindu right-wing groups.

    The Hindu extremists, whose hostility India has been tolerating in silence all these years, are out in the open once again asking pubs, malls and lovers not to celebrate Valentine's Day on Wednesday.

    Inspired by the hate brigade, Lucknow University in Uttar Pradesh has barred students from campus on Valentine's Day. The premier educational institution warned of disciplinary action against students found "sitting or roaming" on its campus on Valentine's Day.

    An advisory issued by Proctor Vinod Singh of the university also urged the parents not to send their wards to the university on February 14.

    "It has been seen in the past years that some students, influenced by western culture, celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14," stated the advisory.

    Unimaginable, isn't it? A university, a place where generally students, all adults, are taught to think and express themselves freely, wants to put a ban on people's right to love and choose their partners.

    Why only love, we can't have a hearty laughter, these days. Didn't we see how Congress parliamentarian Renuka Chowdhury was rebuked, silenced and insulted for laughing loudly by powerful men including Prime Minister Narendra Modi inside Parliament?

    The Congress leader was also called Surpanakha (the sister of demon king Ravana from Ramayana) by Modi's cabinet colleague Kiren Rijiju on a Facebook post.

    Coming back to love, meat eaters can't drool over a beef steak or a chicken leg as it hurts the sentiments of cow-worshippers. The gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes) get so agitated to see anyone with a bovine or a tiffin box suspected of having meat inside it that they don't even think twice before lynching or killing the person.

    Families of dairy farmer Pehlu Khan and teenager Junaid, who were killed last year by gau rakshaks, perhaps will never get justice. These poor families have lost their loved ones forever. They are paying a heavy price for loving their own father, son and brother.

    Just a few days before Valentine's Day, a beautiful teenage actress winked at her onscreen lover in a song from an upcoming Malayalam film and the nation simply could not stop resisting her charm.

    The viral clip from the film, Oru Adaar Love, based on school romance, was shared millions of times on various social media platforms. The promising actress Priya Prakash Varrier from the film has become internet sensation and national obsession.

    Reports say Priya surpassed Bollywood actress and former adult film star Sunny Leone's popularity on digital platforms.

    The most loved person in the nation today, Priya, too is not immune to resentment. A group of Muslim youngsters in Hyderabad filed a police complaint against the actress and makers of the film for hurting their religious sentiments.

    In a message to Hindu right-wing groups on the occasion of Valentine's Day, activist and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani tweeted about the hit song featuring Priya.

    All these love notes from Priya and Mevani did not stop members of Bajrang Dal, a Hindu outfit, from harassing couples in Ahmedabad, UP on Wednesday.

    The Congress, in its attempt to portray itself as a pro-lovers' party to reach out to the young voters, tweeted to "spread love".

    Seeing so much love and hatred at the same everywhere we decided to check the twitter handle of India's self-proclaimed "chowkidar" (watchman), the conscience keeper, who keeps an eye on everyone in the country. As usual we were greeted with silence on all important matters.

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