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Capital parks cry V-Day vacancy

Moral police were on the prowl. But, lovebirds stayed indoors. And real police were left without a job to do.

Though the Ranchi district administration had made elaborate arrangements to curb eve-teasing and moral policing on Valentine’s Day, stepping up patrol by Shakti vans around parks and romantic getaways, couples remained conspicuous by their absence.

While two city hot spots — Nakshatra Van and Machli Ghar, both in front of Raj Bhavan — remained closed with no love-struck visitors, Sido-Kanhu Park, near the official residence of the chief minister, received a trickle.

“Normally, the afternoon footfall is around 400. Today (Thursday), we barely saw 70 people and mostly families with children. Young lovebirds were missing, maybe because of the Shiv Sena flag march here,” said Suraj, a golgappa and chaat vendor outside the park.

With couples missing in action, men and women in uniform were the only ones occupying benches.

“This is a peculiar assignment. We have been deputed for the safety of people who are not there. Very few couples have come here to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” said a lady constable, requesting anonymity.

Namkum resident Priya Mishra, celebrating her first V-Day with her Merchant Navy officer husband Sunil Mishra, was among the thin crowd in the park. “We are glad these police personnel are here for our security. Last year, there was trouble because of moral policing. Maybe, that is the reason people fear to celebrate this day of love in public,” she smiled.

Besides Sido-Kanhu Park, Zakir Hussain Park, another park near Raj Bhavan, and Rock Garden too received limited footfall on Thursday. Around 2pm, barely 50 people, including children, were spotted at the park, while the rock retreat had around 100 visitors instead of a swelling crowd.

“Nobody wants to be disturbed on this day. The real followers of St Valentine have several places and ways to celebrate the day. So, parks witnessed thin attendance. But, we are glad not to receive complaints from any part of the city,” said officer-in-charge of Gonda police station Raj Kapoor.