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Who Decides What is Moral and Immoral~ Moral Policing Activists thrash girls in a pub for partying in Karnataka!

The moral policing activist groups in India, particularly in Karnataka, need to answer an important question- who decides what is moral and what is immoral? And what are the criteria for arriving at such a decision. And once decided by themselves what is immoral, who allows them to take law in their hand and thrash girls who they find in pubs partying over the weekend? If indecent dressing and gathering in a pub is immoral to them, are slapping and assaulting a woman justified? I think the moral police hitting a helpless girl is not activism but vandalism!

In the city of Mangalore in Karnataka on 28th Jul 2012, moral policing activists of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV) brutally attacked people partying at a resort on the city;s outskirts at 7.30 pm, four were women. 50 HJV who got to know of the party barged in, pushed around those who were there,slapped a girl who tried to escape from their clutches, the women were all slapped and jostled. One of the so called activists tried to make the girls show her face to the cameras of a TV crew that had already arrived there. The boys and girls bore injuries owing to the assault. The faces of the girls were blackened by the activists, the police informs( a symbol of shaming a wrong doer in India). Lavanya who attended the party says,"We decided to leave by 6 p.m.We were keeping our bags outside when I saw a crowd gathering. When they entered, I ran outside and jumped the compound. But they followed and dragged me by my hair all the way back to the resort."

Home Minister, Mr. R Ashoka said, " No one has the right to do moral policing. They should inform the police, who will take action if illegal thing is going on." He further lamented,' Steps will be taken against the visual media crew who connived with the attackers in going to the resort instead of informing the police." He said they will move the media regulatory body against them for creating a nation wide 'drama'

What is most surprising is the support these moral policing activists have from some sections of the society. Corporator Mohan Padil who arrived at the resort after getting wind of the incident, demanded action be taken against those who were at the party. Police evicted him. Jagadish Shenava, a local leader, said that the incident showed authorities had failed to stop 'indecent activities' at private resorts.

But most people in Karnataka are shocked and condemning this incident of roughing up women on the pretext of 'correcting' them. It is extremely sad that activists took the law in their hand and attacked women. This incident has drawn condemnation from across the political spectrum, women's and rights organizations.The last time it happened in a pub in Mangalore in the year 2009,there was widespread condemnation across the country.The government promised to take stern actions and measures to prevent it to recur but obviously, not much has been achieved.

If the police succeeded in arresting eight of the attackers by 29th July morning, the search for the rest 7 people is on. who have gone underground. The Prohibitory orders under Section 144 has been clamped in the city for next three days to avoid any untoward incidents. The attackers have been booked under IPC sections dealing with dacoity and outraging the modesty of women.

One guy in Mangalore says, " The guys who barged into a pub and beat up girls are not activists, they are publicity hungry perverts!" Another says," I see no difference between the thugs who molested a minor girl in Guwahati few weeks ago in full view of the public outside a club, and these HJV goons. Do these goons manhandle their sisters/mothers/wives the same way?"

Two days later we get to know that the party which was thought to be a rave party by the self appointed vigilante group here in Mangalore, has been confirmed by the police that it was just another birthday party and all they have found is few beer bottles, cold drinks and food packages! Reports from the reporter who covered the entire incident on his camera however confirms police reports that the activists were all drunk. So who is breaking the culture code- the handful of teenagers who were there to celebrate their friend's birthday party or the self appointed vigilante group activists?

I am a bit perplexed as to what is it that these moral policing activists want? Do they want that all Mangloreans, for that matter, everyone in Karnataka and elsewhere, must party and have fun time right in front of their own homes or offices of these inhumane activists? Do they not party? Or do they preach that it's immoral to live the life! If their initiative was sincere, they would have informed the police, study the legal dos and don'ts, and within the frame of law, tried to work put a plan to curb authentic and more pressing immoral activities in the long run and not take law in their hands and assault women.

These activists need to be corrected first on the rights of others, on what is moral and immoral, what is the role they can play in the betterment of the society and their limitations, but most of all they need to be corrected on their own values.

Urmila Chanam
Columnist, community development journalist and writer.


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