NATIONAL

Man who fought vigilantes in Karnataka receives threat to life

Sudipto Mondal



Shetty has given his statement to the police

Women victims, however, remain untraceable



MANGALORE: “I want everybody to know that if something happens to me or if I am killed, the Sri Ram Sene will be responsible,” says Pawan Kumar Shetty, one of the victims of the January 24 vigilante attack on the ‘Amnesia’ pub here.

Mr. Shetty single-handedly took on the rampaging mob, helping several women guests to escape.

Mr. Shetty, who spoke to The Hindu on January 26, has since gone into hiding. He contacted this correspondent again on Wednesday and arranged a meeting in the midst of a rally being taken out in protest against the attack. He felt that he would be safer in a crowd.

“My father has received several threatening calls saying I will be murdered if I talk to the media or the police. The callers said they were from the Sri Ram Sene. I am not bothered about myself; I am worried about my family. Please tell this to the world,” he said before melting into the crowd.

Mr. Shetty is not the only one to be targeted for speaking out. A senior National Students Union of India (NSUI) leader has received over 15 phone calls in the past two days. Superintendent of Police N. Satish Kumar said the District Crime Intelligence Bureau had been asked to trace them.

A student of the University College here was also threatened, allegedly by members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Wednesday for speaking to the media against the attack on the pub. Visibly upset after the threat, she chose not to go on record. “But I want everybody to know that I was silenced.”

ABVP activists who spoke to The Hindu at the University College said they would take “action” against human rights activist and Professor of English at the college, Pattabhi Rama Somayyaji. They have taken exception to Mr. Somayyaji’s comments in the media against the pub attack. “We will teach him a lesson for making anti-Hindu statements,” said an ABVP member over phone.

According to the students who turned up for the rally in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office on Wednesday, ABVP members issued threats to students of the University College, the Gokarnatha College and the SDM Law College to stop them from agitating.

Minutes before the protest rally, tension prevailed at the SDM Law College where a large number of ABVP activists tried to physically prevent students from leaving the premises for the protest venue. The situation was defused with the help of college officials.

Police have not yet been able to establish contact with the women victims of the attack. While Mr. Shetty gave his statement to the Mangalore North police on Monday, the women continue to be untraceable.

“We want the victims of the attack to know that they will have to cooperate with the police to bring the culprits to book,” Superintendent of Police N. Satish Kumar said. They would be given all protection if they decided to speak out. “Only a senior officer will speak to them. The victims and their family can directly call me on my mobile number 9448469727,” he said.

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