The 'moral police' goon squads are out in full force in Mangalore. On Saturday, self-proclaimed activists belonging to a Hindu cultural organisation raided a private home-stay facility in Padilu, near Mangalore, and thrashed young men and women who were evidently at a private party.
And much like in the recent incident in Guwahati, where a young woman who had been to a local bar was molested and assaulted in the full glare of television cameras, in Mangalore too, the entire sordid episode was captured on film, evidently with the complicity of the media. (Watch the video here; Daijiworld.com, a west coast multi-media portal, which hosted the "exclusive video", claims it was made available by a "third party". On its website (here), it has posted many photographs of the attack.)
The shocking events unfolded on Saturday evening. A group of about 50 persons, affiliated to the Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV), a vigilante group that has been carrying on a campaign against "immoral activities" in and around Mangalore, raided Morning Mist, a private home-stay resort, in the outskirts of Mangalore. Evidently, they had heard that a party was being organised there.
The video footage of Saturday's events begins with the group arriving at the resort, and thrashing the young men and women there. The shocked group of women at the resort can be seen scrambling to escape the clutches of the goon squad, in vain. In one frame, one of the HJV activists slaps one of the young girls, sending her reeling across the bed. Another young woman, who sought to escape from the resort, was dragged back and assaulted.
Throughout the entire episode, the activists make bold to "shame" the partygoers, forcing them to show their faces to the camera. Police officials, who arrived at the scene much later, said the faces of some of the girls were blackened.
Police arrived at the scene much later, and were forced to resort to lathi charge to disperse two groups of protestors - one defending the vigilante action, and the other condemning it.
Some of the local people claimed that they had filed complaints with the police earlier, claiming that the resort was a den of immoral activities, but police had taken no action so far. But police officials denied they had received any such complaints. They claimed that some 20 people had been taken into custody in connection with the incident.
Activists belong to women's organisations and opposition parties too gathered in force to condemn the vigilante raid and assault on the youngsters. They said that the BJP government was soft on such cultural vigilantes, and perpetrators of crimes against women. Congress leader VS Ugrappa criticised the government for its "failure" to maintain law and order. State Women's Commission chairperson Manjula demanded that the government punish the culprits.
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka, who also heads the Home Ministry, condemned the attack and directed the police to immediately arrest those involved. "I have ordered the Mangalore city police commissioner to arrest the culprits immediately, whoever they are," he said.
"No excuse should be given. No one has the right to beat up girls, whether they are wrong or not," Ashoka said. "Who gave them the authority to beat girls?"
Ashoka also noted that the activists who raided the resort had been accompanied by mediapersons with cameras. This was wrong, he said. Rather than taking the media along with them, the activists should have taken the police, he said.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said his government would initiate stern action after receiving a report on the incident.
Jagadish Karanth, the president of the State unit of the Hindu Jagaran Vedike, defended the attack and demanded a check on such "obscene activities". The HJV has been involved in similar vigilante actions in the past in the Mangalore area (more here).