Two youths in Karnataka have been arrested for harassing a Muslim girl and a Hindu boy, who are classmates, for snacking together at an eatery, in the latest case of moral policing.
The new Congress government in the state has instructed police not to show any mercy to those indulging in moral policing and harassing people in the name of faith.
The incident in Chikkaballapura, 60km from Bangalore, took place on Wednesday evening but came to light a day later when a video clip, whose source is not clear, emerged on social media.
The police arrested two youths named Saddam and Waheed, both aged 20, and are trying to trace their accomplice who is absconding.
The Muslim girl and the Hindu boy, second-year BCom students of a college in Chikkaballapur, were having snacks at the eatery when the three youths approached them.
According to a complaint lodged by the girl, the three youths abused them for being together.
She told the police that she had met her classmate soon after getting off a bus in which she had arrived from Bangalore, where she was working during holidays. Since she was hungry, she invited her male classmate to the restaurant.
She told police that the three youths initially stared at her for a while before threatening her and trying to assault her friend. They later went to her house and forced her to apologise for meeting her non-Muslim friend.
This is the first case of moral policing in the state after the Congress government took charge last week. Chief minister Siddaramaiah and deputy chief minister D.K. Shivakumar had earlier instructed the police to act against moral policing and faith-based harassment.
A post on the official Twitter handle of the chief minister on Tuesday said: “People have elected a new government with the expectation of change…. Strict legal action should be taken against disturbing, inflammatory and provocative posts on social media. Drug addiction should be prevented. The Hoysala patrol should be vigilant and prevent crimes.”
Shivakumar had also told the police top brass that the Congress government would never allow saffronisation of the department. The Congress alleges the police were saffronised when the BJP was in power.
Karnataka has over the years become a hotbed for Right-wing politics, dominated by groups from the Sangh parivar.
Four men were arrested earlier this month on the charge of thrashing a Muslim youth in Puttur, Dakshina Kannada district, for talking to a Hindu girl.
The couple had been confronted while they were visiting a fruit juice shop after watching a Tulu movie.
Then home minister Araga Jnanendra had in March 2022 said in response to a question from Janata Dal Secular MLC B.M. Farooq that the state had recorded 30 cases of moral policing over three years.
Farooq had disputed the number, saying the frequency of such cases was not reflected in the data provided by the minister.