A few minutes into the assault by Hindutva activists on men and women at Morning Mist Homestay at Padil on Saturday, eyewitnesses said a police jeep had arrived close to the house. However, claiming to have been “outnumbered” (only a few policemen in it), the jeep left, said the eyewitness.

During a meeting with the Mangalore City Police Commissioner, Seemant Kumar Singh, parents and a few of the victims described the incident. Apart from describing the cars and bikes the assaulters came in, one of the eyewitnesses also brought up a shocking fact: a police jeep had indeed seen the activists enter the house at 6.30 p.m.

“One of our friends was standing by the gate of the house waiting for his friends to come to the party when the group of men barged into the house. A few minutes later, he spotted a police jeep. The policemen told him that “there were so many of them and just three of us” and added that they would return later. It was only an hour later that the police came into the house,” said an eyewitness.

Mr. Singh told presspersons that the matter would be “looked into” and action would be taken against the policemen if they are found guilty.

The eyewitness also described the scenes at the Pandeshwar police station on Sunday, where a group of boys had gone to lodge their complaint. Between 1.30 p.m. and 7 p.m., their statements were scrutinised thoroughly resulting in comments that questioned the morality or necessity of the party, he said. “The police were rude, and some even made it seem like it was our fault that the incident occurred. One policeman even commented in jest that the men in the party did nothing when the women were getting beaten up,” said a boy who was present at the police station.

Parents angry

On emerging from the meeting with the Commissioner on Monday, parents of the victims vented their anger against the assaulters. “How can these men say (attending a party) it was not Hindu culture. We knew our children had gone to the party and we knew they did nothing wrong. The fact that they (Hindutva activists) beat up women and ripped their clothes just showed that their parents hadn’t taught them what Hindu culture is,” said the mother of one of the victims.

Media questioned

She even vented her frustration at the media, questioning why the violence was shot as if a “show” was going on. “If the intention was to film the assaulters, then why not pan across the room and capture all their faces on camera? Why only focus on the girls getting beaten or the instances of violence?” she asked.

The intense media scrutiny – from journalists contacting victims of the assault to looking up their Facebook pages for information – has seen one of the girls, an engineering student, being sent to Gujarat by her parents. It was done to shield her from the police proceedings and the attention from the press, said a friend of the girl.