I once introduced the quirky group of photographers hidden under the name Riverboom, writing about their original gaze at Afghanistan. I loved their work then and love it now, and if there’s even been a project that represents them and their mission – it’s the Love Commandos. It is an incredible, heartwarming, positive, quirky and funny story, just like the Riverboom bunch is.
Love Commandos is a voluntary organization in India dedicated to helping India’s lovebirds who want to marry for love. They provide assistance in protecting couples, helping them fight harassment and giving them shelter so they can marry freely. Their tagline is – no more honor kilings. Here is their theme song:
To love is never a sin, they say. Now – how can one not like and support that? No to be fooled by their name, Love Commandos is on a serious mission – on their website helpline they have around thousand messages from people trying to unite with their loved ones, to marry freely and live their lives in peace. And that is only one of many helplines provided by Love Commandos.
As Riverboom put it in the feature for INSTITUTE:
“In a land, where even Cupid would tread carefully, the Love Commandos, a volunteer organization, have taken the onus to protect couples from the animosity of their families. Operating from their HQ in the crowded area of Paharganj in North Delhi, the Love Commandos are a small team but have saved many couples. They fight against killers, resists police and battle against century long traditions that enrage entire villages. Lead by Sanjoy Sachdev and Harsh Malhotra this open group of activists helps these couples by organizing their break outs, filing their cases in court and protecting them from dangers, all in the name of Love.
Just last year, only in northern India, more than 900 young people were declared missing or dead. And it is to help such couples, who choose their life partner on their own that Love Commandos was born.
Infact, falling in love in India today can be a dangerous business. Most families do not accept the marriages, which are out of religion, caste or class. Families choose the bride or the groom and you don’t get married to a man or a woman but to their families.
But with more opportunities of education and the information age, things are rapidly changing and the young people refuse imposed marriages. Such couples end up living a life on the run, rather than spending their lives with someone they don’t love.
Even though marriages between people belonging to different classes, casts, or religions are permitted according to the Indian law, young couples who take this path often find themselves running away from those people who should love and protect them: their families.
Ending up chased by their relatives and often hunted down by assassins recruited by the Khap Panchayats, the Indian village councils that substitute the local government throughout the country, these young lovers have no choice other than to run away or find protection from the Love Commandos.”
//all images © Riverboom/ INSTITUTE//
For more on this lovely feature – go to INSTITUTE, and for more on Riverboom and their other projects – visit their official website. For more on Love Commandos, their work and ways to support them – see their website.