By Chris Emmanuel D'Souza
Mangaluru, Aug 26: The torturing, beating and stripping of a young man from the minority community by a mob of vandals connected to Bajrang Dal faction in the heart of the city in broad daylight amidst impotent onlookers who had gathered around to see a gruesome act of violence, has once again put Mangaluru in national headlines for all the wrong reasons. The man was tied to an electrical pole; stripped naked, abused and thrashed open in public for an alleged ‘crime’ of interacting with female friend belonging to another community. This happens at a time, when the entire country is demanding liberty and equality and effectively fighting to curb sexual violence against women, but Mangaluru seems to have fallen into slumber. This can happen to anybody, and unless the law enforcement agencies regressively tackle these elements, the future of Mangaluru looks shadowy and depressing.
Moral policing is nothing new in Mangaluru, this sort of hooliganism has become routine and the state and its police haven’t had the guts and the willingness to bring closure to it. Needless to say, the regions of Mangaluru and Udupi have very little to boast of about their achievements in the national spectrum. Although they brag about its education levels, the regions stand religiously divided, women feel increasingly unsafe, societies have fallen to superstition and orthodoxy and therefore become spineless and dreadful in dealing with injustice and social evils.
Hundreds of bars and wine shops have mushroomed all over the city catering easy access to tens and thousands of individuals to get inebriated and go wild. If one observes, towards the dusk our streets stink liquor; half of the male crowd are visibly found intoxicated with cheap liquor, ganja and other forms of drugs. And what follows is rash driving, verbal abusing,street fights and rampant acts of crime leaving the city intense and tumultuous. It’s become hugely challenging to go out at night, as the city seems loose and unguarded. The number of road accidents and the causalities relating to those accidents, vindicates the above points. Sadly, nobody bothers to raise this issue. Moreover, the people have become heavily self-indulgent and egoistic, the helping hand is never there and traditional Mangalurean courtesy has faded.
The modern gadgets have become a sort of nuisance, they have gone into the hands of dumb and the feeble. There is more negative effect from mobile phones and the social media, as people use them only for spreading rumors, rather than what the brave Delhi student Jasleen did a few days ago, by naming and shaming her assaulter. Just a couple of years ago, several girls were thrashed, dragged and humiliated by saffron mobsters at a homestay resort while celebrating a party. A few civil rights groups and political organizations did make some noise in protest, but it took few weeks for the issue to die down in the thin air.
The state police needs a revamp and reconditioning in its functioning. It does not have the machinery to reach out to the civil society, leading to a demarcation between the civilians and the state police. The police need to realize that there are two different ways of dealing with criminals and civilians. Unfortunately, our state police muddles while dealing with people and thereby creating a legitimate fear among the people over the credibility of the cops. Most people get cold feet while approaching the police in serious matters, due to the highly reactionary behavior of the officers.
In cases relating to moral policing and violence against couples, one needs to be cautious in pointing fingers, and should avoid a selective position. Outfits belonging to both communities have been actively perpetuating such ghastly acts over a decade or so. Earlier, these groups used to combat against each other to settle their grudges; but in recent times they have extended their gang wars and invaded the privacy of common people. These groups have sworn openly that they won’t allow their women to interact or acquaint with men belonging to the other community. In financial terms, they have illegally purchased the shares of rights belonging to women and decide the fate of their social lives.