Lovebirds rely on cops for a day out

Lovers can enjoy Valentine's Day without fear; police would be there to watch their back.

The festival of love has been celebrated in Patna with much fanfare over the past few years. On February 14, couples are spotted going to restaurants, watching movies or just having a jolly time in parks and shopping malls.

But their security has been a concern. Boring Road resident Deepali had a terrible experience when some college students accosted her and her boyfriend as they were taking a stroll on Ashok Rajpath.

"Our malefactors asked me to tie a rakhi on my boyfriend's wrist," she said. "We could not report the matter to the police because we did not want to attract undue attention."

Deepali added: "Valentine's Day is not only a favourite with lovers but also with hardliners and activists of some organisations who purportedly crusade against the influence of 'western culture'. Couples are easy targets for such groups."

The police, however, promise that such incidents would not be repeated this year.

Senior superintendent of police Amrit Raj said: "Public places where the footfall of couples is likely to be more would be under our vigilance. Forces would be deputed at parks, restaurants, shopping malls and multiplex so that rowdy elements cannot trouble Valentine's Day revellers."

He added: "If anyone is facing any problem, they can dial 100 and file a complaint."

Not everyone is convinced with the reassurances, though. Once bitten, twice shy, lovers who have had a bad experience in the past, claim they would be extra careful this year. Some of them have even decided to celebrate the day of love on February 15 instead of Thursday.

A Patna University student, who did not want to be named, said she and her boyfriend had been assaulted last year when they were walking near Dinkar roundabout. "Four or five youths started following us and making comments. When my boyfriend challenged them, they punched him and assaulted me," she said.

Her boyfriend said: "The police is very irresponsible. They take action only after a complaint is lodged. This year, we have decided to celebrate our love on February 15."

For those who would stick to the traditional Valentine's Day, police would not be the only security. Vinay Mishra, manager, PandM Mall, said: "We have requested the local police station to deploy more personnel at the mall on Thursday. The number of our security men and bouncers has also been increased."

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