Couples have been told to stop holding hands in public at a famous romantic Indian get-away.
Members of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) political party in West Bengal issued an order against public displays of affection in Darjeeling and have taken to the streets to police it.
Head of the GJM youth wing Ramesh Ale said: “Whatever we are doing is for the ultimate good of the society. We will keep strict vigil to ensure that the directive is strictly followed.”
At least two married couples seen holding hands while walking along The Mall in Chowrasta, a tourist centre in Darjeeling, were recently asked to apologise for their behaviour by members of the GJM youth wing.
One reportedly stood their ground and refused to listen to members of the group, while the other fled the scene.
Six written complaints have already been filed with the police against the GJM youth wing in Darjeeling and other towns over the group’s moral policing of the directive, which has not been made into law.
There is growing concern among locals who feel that the directive might have an effect on the image of the hill station and stem the flow of tourists.
Indian newspaper the Hindustan Times quoted Darjeeling police chief Akhilesh Chaturvedi saying: “We will inquire into the allegations and take measures as per rules.”
The youth wing was formed last year by the GJM who claimed that their role would be to maintain traffic and crowds at the party’s public meetings.
But they have now taken up moral policing after a general strike on July 14, seizing liquor allegedly smuggled from another state.
The temperate climate made Darjeeling an escape for the British from the summer heat and they dubbed the hill station the Summer Capital.
Darjeeling is famous internationally for its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which is a World Heritage Site.