A group of picnickers from the city were assaulted by allegedly a “guard” and others at Dubare Elephant Camp who, reportedly, took objection to them swimming in a lake. While the assault happened on Sunday afternoon, two of the injured youths were admitted to district Wenlock hospital here on Monday.

According to Savan D’Souza (25), a mechanical engineer in Mumbai who had returned home for his vacation, nearly 45 people — including women and children – from Bolar area had embarked on a picnic to Kogadu over the weekend.

Around 3 p.m. on Sunday, the group went to the banks of a lake where five youths from the group ventured out swimming. “There was no notice or board saying we could not swim. The water was not too deep either,” said Mr. D’Souza.

After warnings from people, they decided to leave the lake, but took their time and headed towards the bank, he said.

It was during this time that a person wearing fatigues – the victims are unsure if he is a Forest Department official or a guard posted there by the private company operating boating there – started to swear at them. “He abused us, and increased the swearing when we told him we were from Mangalore. They called us ‘gundas’ who came to Kodagu to spoil it,” said Mr. D’Souza.

An argument ensued in which “at least five” other workers joined in to support the guard. When the youths decided to walk away, the guard started to thrash them with a baton (lathi), while others rained blows, said the student.

“They started to attack because we accused him of being drunk. The men aimed for the head… we have lathi marks all over our arms and torso,” said Mr. D’souza, who along with his friend Pavan P. suffered the worst of the injuries. The assault was such that the guards stick broke, he said.

A few children and women from the group who rushed in to intervene were also rough-handled, he said, and added that a bystander who attempted to help them was also “severely” beaten up.

Case filed

Feeling “unsafe” at Kushalnagar – where the nearest police station is – the group filed a complaint with the Madikeri police station on Sunday evening.

The complaint was transferred to Kushalnagar Police Station, who have registered a case against “Subramanya and others” on Monday. A police official said it was not certain yet if one of the assaulters was from the Forest Department officials.

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