New Delhi: This February 14, worship your parents instead of celebrating Valentine's Day, say a series of billboards put up at Delhi Metro stations by a religious group, which also endorsed police action against couples.
The advertisements, put up across 35 stations by an organisation of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, advocating 'Matri Pitri Pujan Diwas' has left many commuters enraged, prompting Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to order the matter to be examined.
Asaram is lodged in jail in connection with a sexual assault case.
The ads bear two contrasting pictures; one showing two kids worshipping their parents and the other showing a young couple holding each other's ears as policemen stand nearby.
"Police take strong action against those indulging in degenerate activities by celebrating Valentine's Day in broad daylight. Don't celebrate Valentine's Day," the message in the posters say.
"The ads were displayed by a private contractor as all the ad space inside the Delhi Metro premises are allotted to specialised agencies who in turn allot them to interested advertisers. The matter is being thoroughly examined and taken up with the concerned contractor for necessary action," DMRC chief spokesman Anuj Dayal said.
When contacted, a functionary of 'Bal Sanskar Kendra', the organisation behind the posters, said the objective of the ad campaign was to make youngsters "aware" that Valentine's Day was "against Indian culture".
"The picture depicts the plight of a couple who were caught celebrating Valentine's Day in a public park at Raipur where the state government officially celebrates 'Matri Pitri Pujan Diwas'. We want other state governments to come up with similar orders," Manish Goswami, the functionary said.
The posters also made a few wonder about the advertising policy of DMRC. "I guess Delhi Metro will put up just about anything if you pay them enough money," Govind RS posted on Facebook. A DMRC executive said the company follows the Delhi Outdoor Advertising Policy, 2008 and does not have its own policy in this regard.
Unlike DMRC, Transport for London, which runs the vast London subway train service, has its own advertising policy.
"Technology wise we compete with west, #mentality wise we compete with 19th century !!" one Hamraj Singh posted on Twitter, while a tweet by one Shalu Dyani reads, "Asaram Bapu's ads in Delhi Metro threatening couples celebrating Valentines! DMRC has some serious explaining to do."