Students at lounge harassed by Bajrang Dal activists

Vigilantism raised its ugly head again in Mangalore when members of the Bajrang Dal and its women’s wing, Durga Vahini — accompanied by the police — traumatised a group of seven young people meeting at an ice-cream lounge here Wednesday evening.

The group, all undergraduate students, were hauled off to the Pandeshwar police station after the vigilantes accused them of ‘immoral’ activities. At the station, they were made to wait for 45 minutes before being sent away without being charged.

Open terrace

According to the manager of Roxx, on Attavar Main Road, some 10 Bajrang Dal activists, with two policemen in tow, marched up to the smoking area on the open terrace leading from second floor where the four girls and three boys were, around 5.30 p.m., and asked them to come to the police station for their “immoral” and “uncultured” behaviour. When the young group protested, one of the intruders used foul language against a girl, the manager said, adding that the group were regulars there.

At the police station, the vigilantes, who said they were from the Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini, told reporters there were complaints from neighbours that young people smoked cannabis at the lounge.

No case booked

Commissioner of Police Manish Karbikar said the police went to the spot to defuse the situation. “As smoking on the terrace was not an offence, the police have not booked any case,” he said

To this, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Ivan D’Souza, who visited the police station, countered: “If no case was booked, why bring the students to the police station?”

A constable who accompanied the vigilantes said a Bajrang Dal activist had called the police station about “immoral activities on the terrace”. He said that of the seven young people, three were found smoking while the rest were having soft drinks.

‘A family joint’

B.M. Ashraf, managing director of Roxx, who spoke to the The Hindu on the phone from New Delhi, described the lounge as “an ice-cream parlour, a family joint, a clean place… there is no liquor, nothing of that sort.” He said he was surprised and saddened by the incident. “We don’t know why they had to do that.”

He said he would not take any action or follow up with the police and he didn’t “want to make it an issue”.