MANGALORE: Minutes after he was released on bail from the Mangalore sub-jail, where he was lodged in connection with the January 24, 2009, pub attack, Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik struck an ominous note. He thanked the gathered media persons for “highlighting” the incident and said that the widespread coverage of the attack had created a wave of support for him and his outfit.
His words seemed almost prophetic when a convoy of over 100 vehicles joined the victory parade that was organised on August 1, 2009, to celebrate his re-entry into Mangalore after a ban on his entry into the district was lifted by the administration.
But a year on, even as Mr. Muthalik faces the fallout of a sting operation, his ‘Sene' stands decimated in the district that is considered to be its ‘heartland'. There is no leader of any standing left to react to the latest sting operation.
There has been a relentless crackdown on the outfit in the district after the new police administration headed by Superintendent of Police A.S. Rao and Inspector-General of Police (Western Range) Gopal B. Hosur took charge.
The outfit's most prominent leader after Muthalik and its national vice-president Prasad Attavar is at present behind bars for allegedly being part of an international crime syndicate run by underworld don Ravi Poojary, along with several other Sene members.
Prominent leaders of the outfit such as Arun Kumar Puttila (State convener) and Suddatta Jain (convener) have quit the organisation and several faces in the lower rungs of the outfit such as Lohith Adyar and Mudhusudan Urwastore have disappeared from public view.
Speaking to The Hindu on Friday, Mr. Puttila, who is out on bail after being arrested for a case of rioting and defiling a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Puttur in March, said that he had “enough” of the organisation and wanted to attend to his personal life. However, sources said that he is in talks with the Bharatiya Janata Party to join it soon.
Mr. Jain, who is also out on bail for a separate case of assault and armed robbery, has started a labour union. He said he quit the Sene because it had deviated from the Hindutva ideology and many of its top leaders were involved with the underworld. Mr. Jain, who was one of the main organisers of the outfit in the district, claimed that he walked out along with over 300 members and said that he enjoys the support base of 1,000 sympathisers. He also said that several “boys” who were with the organisation have quit out of fear of the police.
Lohith Adyar, who was arrested on charges of conspiring to murder one of his Sri Rama Sene colleagues and is now out on bail, has been sidelined within the organisation after the incident. He was becoming a liability for the organisation, said Mr. Jain.
The depletion of the Sene was on public display during Mr. Muthalik's last visit to the district on May 10 to protest against alleged “police atrocities” against Prasad Attavar and other arrested activists of the outfit. Less than 100 people turned up for the event.