In most cases, young men and women have been targeted
MANGALORE: Self-appointed vigilante groups are cracking down on those “violating the moral code” in Dakshina Kannada district. Records with the district police that The Hindu had access to show that since the third week of July there have been 10 instances of these groups punishing individuals whom they perceived as having violated the moral code.
Hindutva organisations such as the Bajrang Dal, a Christian organisation Social Action Committee, as well as certain individuals who were formerly with the Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD), have been involved in these incidents.
In most of the incidents the groups have targeted young men and women from different communities who were interacting with each other. In one case, a young woman was attacked because she went to the house of a young woman from a different community.
The Bajrang Dal has claimed responsibility for seven of these incidents. , The district head of the organisation, Sudarshan Moodabidri, claimed that the outfit had “solved” over 200 cases in the last two months where Hindus were “caught” committing the “immoral” act of interacting with members of other communities.
Mr. Moodabidri said, “Sometimes it becomes necessary to use force. Fear of such action should deter such misadventures. Girls reform themselves once they are thrashed and humiliated in public, but boys are tougher to control.”
The Social Action Committee carried out a “joint operation” with Bajrang Dal activists in the city in one instance. “We will carry out more such strikes,” its president Deepak D’Mello told The Hindu.
Former activists of the KFD have been linked to two such cases. The organisation’s president Abdul Aziz said that the acts were committed by delinquent members and distanced KFD from the issue. He confirmed that the organisation was against inter-community relationships but was averse to using force.
The latest incident occurred on September 2 at Vittla in Bantwal taluk where activists of the Bajrang Dal assaulted a couple, Roopashree and Vikhar Ahmed, and paraded them in public. The same afternoon, over 60 km away in Puttur taluk, Bajrang Dal activists stormed the house of Ayesha as her friend Divya was visiting her.
On September 1, Sugandhi and her three friends, Raghav, Anil and Rasheed, were assaulted by Bajrang Dal activists when they were at a hotel in the heart of Mangalore city. On August 24, Deepa and her fiancé Abdul Waheed were dragged out of a bus at a junction in the city and assaulted by Bajrang Dal activists.
On the afternoon of August 23, Bajrang Dal activists assaulted and abused classmates Julia, Robert, Waheed, Abdul and Sunil because they were found laughing and talking loudly in a public place.
On August 22, activists of the Bajrang Dal and the Social Action Committee carried out the “joint operation” against Mohammed and his classmate Catherine. On August 18, activists claiming to be from the KFD assaulted Dinesh and his friend Afshan at a remote village 25 km from the city. They were assaulted because Dinesh had brought medicines for Afshan who was suffering from malaria.
On August 8, activists of the Bajrang Dal assaulted Syed, Zulfikar and Ameen with soda bottles and hooks in a bus in the heart of the city because they had carried school bags belonging to a group of Hindu girls.
On July 27, activists claiming to be from the KFD attacked Govind, an autorickshaw driver at a village over 25 km from Mangalore because he often ferried his neighbours Uzma and Shaheen in his auto. On July 16, Rehman was heard talking and laughing loudly at a public place with his two friends Uma and Bhavya. They were assaulted and abused by Bajrang Dal activists.
Superintendent of Police N. Sateesh Kumar said, “This is a social issue. Resistance to such divisive forces should come from within the community. In cases where there have been assaults we have taken the necessary action.”
(Names of the victims have been changed to protect their identity)