Bangalore, July 28: The moral police are back in Mangalore, this time in the shape of molesters.
More than 50 Hindutva activists raided a resort in the coastal Karnataka city this evening ostensibly to “protect” their “sisters” who were partying with their male friends, and thrashed the boys and molested the girls.
The attack, attributed to a fringe group called the Hindu Jagran Vedike, comes three-and-a-half years after another Right-wing outfit, the Sri Ram Sene, carried out attacks on young male and female pub-goers in Mangalore, 340km southwest of Bangalore.
Today, eight young men and five women had gathered at the Morning Mist Homestay when the raiders pounced on them around 6.30pm.
Footage recorded by the local News9 TV channel show the women — all in party wear — being dragged, groped and molested. The girls are seen weeping and pleading with the attackers whose hands are all over them.
The clips show the young men being thrashed, with one of them losing his shirt in the melee and being dragged by his hair. The raiders left after a 10-minute rampage. The police took another 45 minutes to reach the resort, around 7km into the city outskirts.
Sathyajit, a Vedike official in Mangalore, admitted that the raiders were from his group but another senior functionary of the outfit, Jagadish Karanth, claimed he knew nothing about it.
Chief minister Jagadish Shettar said he would get the home minister to look into the matter. Mangalore deputy commissioner N.S. Chennappa Gowda said “some arrests have been made” but police commissioner H.K. Singh refused comment.
The Vedike has units in many places in Karnataka and its activists have in the past been accused of attacking churches along with Sene members. Both groups are known to campaign against “western culture” and their version of public immorality.
Sene leader Pramod Muthalik, who earned national notoriety with the early-2009 pub attacks in Mangalore, was the first to justify today’s raid.
“It’s our duty to protect these girls who are our sisters. Rave partying is not part of our culture,” he said, jumping to a conclusion on the nature of the party.
No one had been prosecuted for the 2009 Sene attacks but the incidents prompted a “Pink Chaddi Campaign” by some women activists who sent boxes of pink underwear to Muthalik to mark their protest.
“It looks like nothing has changed since 2009,” said social activist Sarika Vijay, who had started the Pink Chaddi Campaign.
“Something similar (a televised molestation of a woman) happened in Guwahati recently and here we have it again in Mangalore. This is a problem throughout the country.”