A day after four girls and three boys were whisked away from an ice-cream parlour targeted by right-wing activists, questions remain about the police’s decision to detain them even after no evidence of ill-doing was found. T.R. Jaganath, Assistant Commissioner of Police, said the undergraduate students were taken to the station as a precaution, and to ensure “their safety”.

On Wednesday evening, around 10 activists barged into the ice cream parlour, Roxx on Attavar Main Road, along with two policemen and targeted young people, some of whom were smoking on the terrace. The group accused the students of indulging in “immoral and uncultured” activities. Officials at Mangalore South police station said the students were kept at the station till around 9.30 p.m. After the activists left, they were escorted home. Parents of a few of the girls were informed about the incident, said an official.

Greeshma Rai, a law student, said the incident showed the collusion of the police with organisations such as the Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini, which were involved in the raid. Only two tables at the ice-cream parlour were occupied on Thursday, and the customers seated said they were unaware of the incident.

While downplaying any loss of business due to the incident, Deepak Shetty, manager of the parlour, dismissed claims that neighbours had complained about the parlour. “We did not get any complaint so far. One of those who barged in said he was a local resident who lived down the road. This seems unlikely because the area he pointed does not have big apartments from where the terrace can be seen,” he said.

According to Sharan Pumpwell, a local leader of the Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini is the women’s wing of the VHP. While admitting that the tip-off on Wednesday was off the mark, Mr. Pumpwell said they had “seen enough people” heading to the parlour to consume marijuana, a charge denied by Mr. Shetty. “Nothing illegal happens here. We do not even sell alcohol or cigarettes,” he said.

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