|Legal status||Non-profit organization|
|Purpose||Protecting lovers in India, and preventing honor-killings and suicides|
Love Commandos is a voluntary non-profit organization in India which helps and protects couples in love from harassment and honor killing. They provide housing, legal aid, and protection to couples seeking their aid who are being persecuted by family and society for wanting to marry based solely on mutual attraction and love.
In India, most marriages are arranged by parents, with potential marriage partners vetted on the basis of caste, complexion, horoscope, etc.,—the matter of love is rarely considered. Falling in love carries a strong social stigma in India. Love across the barriers of caste, religion and economic class can be problematic, resulting in violence and occasionally honor killing. The police have been known to refuse protection to such couples, sometimes even siding with parents and arresting the male lovers on false charges of rape.
The Love Commandos consists of journalists, businessmen, lawyers and human rights activists. They provide protection to lovers from religious hardliners. They also run secret shelters for eloped couples, where they may stay until they gain financial independence. They also help willing couples to get married and register their marriage with the civil authorities.
The group was originally called the Peace Commandos, who worked to protect lovers from religious extremist groups during occasions like Valentine's Day. Later, they decided to rename the group, and concentrate on protecting lovers and on the issue of honor killing. In 2010, Love Commando was formed after a man was arrested on statutory rape charges. Even though the woman went on record that she was an adult and the relationship was consensual, the police decided to attest the father's statement that she was a minor.
Harsh Malhotra, a travel agent, founded the group. He was assaulted himself when he went to his future wife's family and later they had to elope. He is now an interior designer and the chief coordinator of the group. Sanjay Sachdeva is one of the co-founders and now runs the organization as its chairman.
The organization completed its 500 days of formation in November 2011. It has more than 20,00000 members across India. It receives an average of 300 calls everyday on its 24-hours helpline. They have 450 plus shelters across India. Their cost of operations in the Delhi unit alone is about US$20,000 (or ₹1,000,000).
Sachdeva was interviewed on the 5th episode of Aamir Khan's television show Satyamev Jayate. After his appearance on the show, the organization began getting more calls than before. However, Hakim Abdul, who appeared in the same episode with his wife, was murdered five months later in November 2012 in Bulandshahr village in western Uttar Pradesh. The Love Commandos continued to protect his widow and infant daughter.
In April 2014, Björn Borg launched the website Unitethelovers.com to collect funds for the organisation. In the same year, photographer Max Pinckers featured Love Commandos and eloped couples in his photobook, Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty. The book won the Photographic Museum of Humanity grant.
In 2014, a girl, whose father was a liquor baron in Agra, eloped with a man and sought shelter with the Love Commandos in nearby New Delhi. The girl's father used his influence to ask Agra police to search for the girl. Agra police allegedly managed to find the girl's location in a suburban area in New Delhi by using her cellphone signal. They began combing area while being armed. Delhi police had to intervene and stop the search.
UK based film maker Miriam Lyons directed film "The Love Commandos" on their work is on Google Plus, I Tunes, Microsoft and other social platforms. Special Screening of Miriam Lyons directed film 'The Love Commandos' was held at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad on March 24, 2017 for Indian Police Service probationers, which is a landmark for the Non Profit Organisation. A documentary on the organisation on Al Jazeera channel on May has generated a worldwide debate on their positive role
They are always short of funds and continue seeking help from believers of love from all over the world
- "Indian couples whose families disapprove turn to the Love Commandos". The Globe and Mail. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "The 'love commandos' protecting young Indian couples". BBC News. 5 June 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Instant help for lovers in distress". The Asian Age. 6 April 2012. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Satyamev Jayate: Meet the Love Commandos". IBNLive. 3 June 2012. Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Love Commandos : Policing those who police love". DNA India. 15 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- "The Bitter Truth". The Telegraph (India). 9 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "India's 'Love Commandos' protecting eloping couples". The Telegraph. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Björn Borg Highlights Lovers in Distress; Sparks Refugee Wave to Love Commandos". Yahoo News. 22 May 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- "India’s Love Commandos – and the runaway couples they protect". The Guardian (UK). 24 October 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- "The Case of the Love Commandos". NPR. Retrieved 10 March 2014.