September 06, 2015

Moral Policing by Sangh Goons Keeps Coastal Karnataka on Edge

AN 'invisible' government is ruling the coastal Karnataka. The 'visible' government is at their beck and call.  The flag-bearers of this 'invisible' government or Hindutva vanguard decide with whom a girl from their community may or may not associate. They have absolute authority to punish any Muslim boy seen in public with a Hindu girl. In such cases, the Muslim boy is assaulted and humiliated in any way they please. The Hindu girl, too, is insulted, manhandled and threatened, all in order to protect her ‘honour’. Acting at the behest of such Hindu hooligans, police contact the particular boy and girl and give suitable sermons and warnings to them about avoiding anything which would displease them. Such gangs are rarely brought to book for their illegal actions. A few arrests are made if in case media glare is too hot on such incidents. But the ring-leaders who plot such operations carry on uninterrupted.

This pattern was seen again in two recent cases in Dakshina Kannada District. A Muslim employee of a retail company in Mangalore was pulled out of his car as he was handing over some money to a Hindu girl. The gang that assaulted the boy had appeared out of nowhere and started accusing him of luring her with money, a motive to pull her inside the car. This despite the girl stating that he was her colleague and that it was she who had requested him for some money and had called him there. The girl was insulted and filthy language used on her while the boy was roughed up, stripped down to his undergarments and tied to a pole nearby whereafter the thrashing continued unabated in full public view. Nobody in the public interfered and some even shot photographs and videos of the whole affair. The girl went on pleading for the goons to stop beating up her colleague. This went on for about 45 minutes before police arrived. The very same day, a video of the condemnable episode was uploaded on social media tagged with the most communal, sadistic and self-righteous comments.

Police woke up when the gory incident figured in national media. Thirteen persons were arrested, most of whom, police said, were Bajrang Dal or VHP workers. However, mysteriously, the same night, the girl who had on the day of the incident pleaded that the boy was innocent, filed a sexual harassment case alleging that he had tried to pull her inside his car on the pretext of giving her money. Police dutifully registered a case even though clear evidence existed in the video of her pleading that the boy was innocent. She was even paraded at a press conference held in the office of Sharan Pumpwell, a well-known Sangh operative and ring leader of many such ‘Rescue Honour of Girl’ operations. Speaking hurriedly and obviously fearing pressure and threats mounted on herself and her family, the girl had gave a different version. The boy is languishing in hospital with physical injuries and the added agony of being named in a criminal case and faced with possible imprisonment and a bleak future.

In another case, in nearby Sulya, a Muslim boy is seen with a female Hindu classmate at a cybercafe. Local ABVP unit demands debarring of the boy for the "crime".  ABVP mobilises students who boycott classes and create a law and order problem. The principal of the college succumbs to pressure and orders 15-day suspension for both students. He later states that the suspension is "voluntary" to protect the "honour" of the girl and had been agreed to by her parents.

The home and district in-charge minister, as usual at such occasions, has issued ‘bold’ statements that the Congress government has ‘zero tolerance’ for such ‘moral policing’ and that the ‘law will take its own course’ in such cases. However, until they arrest local gang leaders like Sharan Pumpwell and punish the perpetrators of such ghastly communal crimes, such statements by the ministers are going to yield no results.

Part of public inaction in such cases have also been because of fear that the criminal gangs enjoy patronage of powerful. Unless Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, the chief of the such gangs who has complete control of police in the district irrespective of who is in power in Bangalore, is arrested, nothing will change. Public anger has been building amidst fear and is about to boil over. This was seen in a protest organised by DYFI against the incidents. DYFI has demanded arrest of Sharan Pumpwell. However, a powerful grassroots resistance to such 'immoral policing' that can overcome public fear, along with pressure on the government to act, is required to prevent recurrence of such gory incidents. (END)