South Asia

Sri Lanka police detain young couples for kissing

Image caption Sri Lanka has a conservative attitude towards public displays of affection

Police in two Sri Lankan towns have detained nearly 200 young couples they accuse of indecent behaviour.

Locals complained the young lovers were kissing, cuddling or simply holding hands, reports say.

In the central town of Kurunegala about 350 youngsters have been detained and reprimanded in the past two weeks.

Police have gone further in another town - Matara in the south - where 22 allegedly offending couples are to appear before a magistrate on Friday.

Unacceptable

Police in Kurunegala say ordinary townsfolk have been getting increasingly annoyed and embarrassed by what they feel is indecent behaviour by hundreds of young people.

The town is a major centre of students and reports say lots of them have been hanging around in public parks and bus stands.

In rural and provincial Sri Lanka kissing and cuddling in public is seen as unacceptable - however much the capital city may be racing towards Westernisation, says the BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo.

In Kurunegala many of the girls involved are said to be school students aged only about 15.

The police say this is why they have conducted a sweep and detained 350 offending youngsters, later taking them to their parents with a warning that if there is a repeat they may face tougher measures.

In the southern town of Matara, police detained 22 couples on a beach before releasing them on bail to appear in court on Friday.