It’s been a year since a group of right-wing activists barged into a homestay in Padil on the outskirts of the city and attacked a partying crowd of young men and women. The incident brought the issue of “moral policing” into sharp focus. Despite the media attention and scrutiny, the prosecution is progressing at its own pace and the trial is yet to begin.
A total of 44 persons were charge-sheeted in the case, but the police managed to arrest only 38 suspects, of whom 34 have managed to get bail. The case of a minor has been handed over the Juvenile Justice Board. Among the three still inside the Mangalore Central Prison is Subhash Padil, the key accused. Six of the suspects are still at large.
With the media and the civil society cranking up the pressure, the police arrested 20 persons within the first few days of the July 28, 2012 attack. Nearly two months later, the police filed charge sheet against 44 persons and showed the remaining suspects as absconding. Television journalist Naveen Soorinje, who was instrumental in bringing the attack to light, along with Sharan, a local cameraman, were also arrested as the police slapped harsher charges against the duo.
Following an outrage over the arrest of the media persons, the State government announced withdrawal of charges against Mr. Soorinje. But with the then Chief Minister dragging his feet on the case, Soorinje remained in jail for a few more weeks. In the meanwhile, the Karnataka High Court ordered his release on bail. The new Congress government also dropped charges against Mr. Soorinje.
Six months into the attack, the case was committed from the 3rd Judicial Magistrate First Class Court to the 2 Additional District and Sessions Court, which will conduct the trial. At present, the case was at the hearing-before-charge stage where accused would be heard before charges are framed.