ANGRY crowds in several Indian cities burned effigies of Richard Gere yesterday after he swept a popular Bollywood actress into his arms and kissed her several times during an AIDS-awareness event.
Photographs of Gere embracing Shilpa Shetty and kissing her on the cheek at the New Delhi event were splashed across yesterday's front pages in India, a country where sex and public displays of affection are largely taboo.
In Mumbai, members of the right-wing Hindu nationalist group Shiv Sena beat burning effigies of Gere with sticks and set fire to glamorous shots of Shetty.
Similar protests broke out in other cities, including Varanasi, Hinduism's holiest city, and in the northern town of Meerut, where crowds chanted "Down with Shilpa Shetty!"
The two appeared at a press conference in New Delhi on Monday to highlight the HIV/AIDS epidemic among India's truck drivers.
In front of a cheering crowd, Gere kissed the giggling Shetty on the hand, then kissed her on both cheeks before bending her in a full embrace to kiss her cheek again.
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