Moral policing should be viewed through prism of ‘action and reaction’: Karnataka CM

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai was greeted by local BJP leaders on his arrival in Mangaluru on October 13, 2021.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai was greeted by local BJP leaders on his arrival in Mangaluru on October 13, 2021.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Wednesday that moral policing cases occur “when moral values in society diminish” and there would be “action and reaction” which need to be taken into account while viewing such incidents.

The Chief Minister was responding to a question on increasing incidents of moral policing in the coastal districts and a BJP MLA receiving accused persons following their release at a police station after one such incident. In recent days, Dakshina Kannada district has seen several cases of young people belonging to differing faiths travelling together or socialising being confronted, threatened or attacked by right-wing activists.

Speaking to reporters on his arrival at Mangaluru international airport for a daylong visit to Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts, Mr. Bommai argued that moral values were needed in society to lead a cohesive life. He went on to say that it was “improper for young people to act in a way that affects social values”.

Mr. Bommai said moral policing was a very “sensitive issue”. Just as the government has to maintain law and order, society too has to behave in a “responsible way”. The government has to balance law and order as well as social issues. “When social beliefs are affected, such incidents happen. People have to behave appropriately to avoid such incidents,” he said, adding that the government would take appropriate action to curb moral policing in the region. “It is important that sentiments of people are not violated. The onus on protecting social harmony is on everybody,” said Mr. Bommai.

Many outraged

The statement of the Chief Minister elicited some strong reactions, accusing him of “justifying” moral policing.

You have accepted your incapability to maintain law & order by justifying moral policing by a few anti-social elements. Please resign & save Karnataka. — A tweet by Siddaramaiah,former Chief Minister

A group of over 30 activists and organisations from across Karnataka, in a joint statement, said that it sends out “a dangerous message” that it is acceptable to use violence to enforce what some people see as “morality”. They said that people of the State expected Mr. Bommai to condemn these violent acts of moral policing and take action. “Instead, shockingly, you have spoken in a manner which may encourage more such acts... These acts of violence affect the dignity of the youth and instil fear in them. It condemns minorities and Dalits to lead the life of second class citizens. It also conveys the message that women have no right in choosing their partners. It is an attack on all women, in fact. It also fills the minds of many youth among majority community with hate,” said the statement.

In a tweet, activist and advocate Vinay Sreenivasa said, “Your encouragement to criminal actions is dangerous for Karnataka. As the CM you should lead the state to light, not darkness.”

In a statement Lavanya Ballal, a Congress worker from Dakshina Kannada, said, “What does this even mean Mr. Bommai when the CM of the State supports moral policing? What more can be expected from the minions?” Ms. Ballal had faced threats from some right-wing activists while she was on air in a TV talk show recently.

Muneer Katipalla, DYFI leader, demanded to know how the Chief Minister of a State, bound by the Constitution, could make statements contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. He demanded an apology from the Chief Minister.

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Printable version | May 31, 2022 7:54:22 am |