By Daru VMJ
Mangaluru, May 11: There was a time when the Sangh Parivar used to give a call for 'Mangaluru bandh' in the late evenings. Irrespective of the issue being major or minor, they were able to bring normal life to a halt within a few hours. The moral police had conducted several attacks and were able to create a sense of fear among the Mangalureans. Hence, the young generation of Mangaluru had to think twice before partying, clubbing, practicing their religion or going out with the opposite gender.
Indeed, the church attacks, pub attack, home stay attack and several other attacks by the moral police and the Sangh Parivar has not only dented Mangaluru’s image on the globe but has also created a sense of fear among the citizens of Mangaluru.
However, the young generation of Mangaluru is no more ready to accept the attacks and agendas of the Sangh Parivar. For the first time, youths have been campaigning extensively on the social media and appealing to the citizens of Mangaluru to not vote for the BJP. It is a ray of hope for the Mangalurean community to witness their youths belonging to different religions, faiths and political parties come together and expose the earlier attacks of moral police in Mangaluru.
Today, several posts, videos, images and audio clips relating to church attacks, pub attack, home stay attack etc have gone viral on social media. Most of the posts are alerting the educated and liberal citizens of Mangaluru to vote for liberal and democratic political parties and not for the BJP which directly and indirectly patronizes moral police.
It is worth mentioning that the Mangalurean citizens had not organized any major protests against moral police earlier. Hence, the political analysts used to wonder whether Mangaluru city supported moral police and other fundamental organizations. The city was also branded as ‘komuvaadada prayogashaale’ (lab of communalism) by the political pundits.
So when did the Mangalurean community start to counter anti-social forces?
Noted social activist who has led several protests against the moral police, Vidya Dinker, states that very few youths are a part of Hindutva agenda in Mangaluru. She states that Mangalurean community is not a community which would come to the streets easily. However, she says Mangaluru is not a communal place generally and there is a lot of anger among the citizens concerning the moral police. She says the present generation does not consider 'moral police' as a 'cool lifestyle'. They are more concerned about their career, jobs and lifestyle.
On the other side there is a pressure created by the progressive and democratic forces on the moral police groups. Several activists of the moral brigade were behind the bars earlier and they know the consequences of their acts. There are instances when the activists who were jailed had approached her to help them! She states the members of these organizations have seen their leaders living a luxury life and only the root level member facing the consequences. The members might be underprivileged and unemployed but they are not idiots to not see the reality. At the end everyone wishes for a happy life and no one wants to be behind bars. In this context, there is an awareness among the youths and moral police is slowly losing its ground in coastal Karnataka. She says while the Sangh Parivar is still polarizing people, the battle is not lost and she is hopeful that Mangaluru will be peaceful in the long run.
Concerning the role of police department under the present government, Vidya Dinker says they have fulfilled approximately 25% of the expectations from the progressive citizens. Even though the present government did not make 100% attempt to curb moral police, she says the government was better than earlier governments and the citizens at least had an opportunity to raise their voice and demand for justice.
Well-known journalist and a strong voice against moral police, Naveen Soorinje states: "More than 70% of the citizens are against moral police in Mangaluru. Earlier around 50% youth belonging to backward classes were directly or indirectly a part of Hindutva agenda. However, a large number of youth are no more associated with moral police groups. Especially, the Billawa youth have been deserting Hindutva organizations at present. The major reason being the denial of MLA tickets to many of the Billawa BJP leaders during this election." He also makes an interesting comment by saying that no youth belonging to GSB community and upper casts have been to jail for organizing attacks. Hence, there is a sense of enlightenment between the Billawa youth who believe that they have just been used to propagate Sangh Parivar agendas and they would not be promoted as political leaders."
Soorinje opines that in the recent times several progressive thinkers and organizations have redefined the word ‘Hindutva’. Earlier, the Sangh Parivar had branded ‘Hindutva’ as an aggressive way of practicing religion. However, several progressive organizations and political organizations like DYFI have been spreading the ‘Hindutva’ which was preached by Sri Narayana Guru and other religious leaders. He believes the police department has also played a partial role in countering moral police. However, he is of the firm opinion that the Congress government and the police department have failed in putting an end to the moral police. He gives a large share of credit to various progressive and democratic organizations who have strongly resisted fundamental organizations and highlighted their attacks on the international platform.
Soorinje also credits the social media where the common youth who do not belong to any political parties have been vocal against the moral police. He confirms that various discussions and posts on social media have created an awareness among the young generation.
Shashidhar Hemmady, editor of Karavali Karnataka web portal and a young writer states that the minority religious groups in Mangaluru live under fear. Whereas, the majority religious groups consider attacks by the moral police as 'minor attacks'. However, he is of the opinion that the majority of Mangalureans personally oppose moral police.
Hemmady further states that the moral police have learnt their lessons from the past incidents. Most of the youth who were jailed for being a part of these attacks believe that the Sangh Parivar and BJP did not come to their rescue. As they have suffered individually and seen their families suffer, today a large number of youth do not like to associate with moral police groups.
He also confirms that the educated, broad minded, secular youth want a peaceful life. They do not support moral police at any cost as they believe someday they might be the victims of moral police. Hemmady opines that the number of blind supporters on social media (commonly known as Bhakts) has come down drastically compared to the general election of 2014. He concludes his statements by stating that the head of religious institutions, education institutions and political leaders should speak against communalism and polices of hate. He is unhappy with the social and religious leaders who do not condemn moral police at the time of crisis. He appeals to the young generation to practice humanity, diversity and brotherhood and asks the youth to take inspiration from their families and parents and not aggressive Hindutva elements.
Nikhil Kholpe, a senior journalist states that it just a hype to say Mangaluru youth support 'Hindutva Elements'. He states that the educated youth consider moral police with utter disdain and they do not give any importance to anti-social elements. He too believes that a large number of youth have been countering and exposing moral police on social media. He is of the firm opinion that secularism has a long history and it will triumph in the long run.
Indeed, every citizen would opt for a peaceful life and not violence. There seems to be a wave on the social media against BJP and Sangh Parivar at present. If this wave spreads to the mainstream of the society, BJP would certainly lose its grip on coastal Karnataka. Now the major question will be how much the Congress and other political parties would gain from the losing ground of BJP in the Karavali region.
It is time for the Sangh Parivar to realize that the Citizens of Mangaluru would not accept violence and attacks in the name of the religion. Moreover it is an alarm to them to know that the common citizens of Mangaluru never supported their violent acts and the silence of the Mangaluru Community was not a consent to their anti-social activities.
Certainly, one cannot grow flowers by planting thorns. It appears that the BJP would pay heavily for its earlier acts during the Karnataka assembly election.
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