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India: Outrage at attacks on women by Hindu vigilantes

On the afternoon of January 24, a group of young women in Mangalore in the southern state of Karnataka were attacked by Hindu vigilantes in a pub (bar). Dozens of activists from the little-known Sri Rama Sene (Lord Ram's Army) assaulted the women (and men, according to some reports) in order to protect “traditional Indian values”. The attack, which was filmed and broadcast on national television, has outraged many, and the activists have been described as “saffron hooligans” by one government minister – while other politicians have tried to make political capital out of the incident.

Amrutha in Chennai writes:

My religion does not condone violence to uphold or protect its culture. My religion does not ask people to shun contact with all other religions to preserve its sanctity. I am a Hindu, but I do not support this criminal conduct in the name of Hinduism.

Karthik Balasubramanian, who is working in the United States, says:

Some random hindu right wing organization springs up again and decides to attack innocent people in a bar this time. The reason they came up with – The women were not following “traditional Indian morality”. To add insult to injury, a couple of politicians spring up to denounce what they call “pub” culture. what?? So I put out this question for all these little so called morality/righteousness/hindutva/Islamic organizations. What is traditional Indian morality?? Has there been a “traditional India”?? no.. India was never “India”.. that is why it is so diverse now. We were a loose alliance of many kingdoms for the greater part of 2000 years. we have had a few great dynasties and periods of great prosperity but was there ever an “India” before the British called us so??

Annamma has produced a “Special Insider's Report” at Desicritics:

Yes, so let me describe to you our heroic feat in Mangalore. […] We do not want all these pubs; imagine men and women mixing together shamelessly, drinking foreign liquor, and the girls wearing short skirts, and lipstick. This is not Bharatiya sanskriti [Indian culture]. Only toddy should be drunk, and only men can drink. And no mixing. If you want to see girls, go and see a Bollywood movie. […] Two of us caught one girl, she had a fancy bob cut, we slapped her so hard she started crying. It is better she cries now, than later, right? One fell down, and we pushed her out. Another had her hair all down her back, long hair, the shameless hussy. We beat her, too. She didn't dare show her face to us, just ran. I told you, they were no match for our brave volunteers. Molesting? What molesting? We did not molest anyone. When the Hindu [newspaper] said we groped a girl, it is all lies […] By God, it was all in a brotherly way.

Freespirit is in Bangalore:

This nation is a democracy only in name. We're all actually being ruled by the Goonda Raj which is constituted by hoodlums like these who are in power and so think they can get away with anything, including oppressing weaker people.

Indian Homemaker says:

THESE TERRORISTS ARE WORSE THAN THOSE WHO ATTACKED THE TAJ BECAUSE THEY ARE OUR OWN COUNTRY MEN AND THEY INTEND TO FIGHT ELECTIONS!

She links to a petition, quipping:

Don't Let India Be Talibanised! “Without a ‘pub’, our ‘republic’ will be a mere “relic”

Anindita Sengupta in Bangalore writes:

As someone pointed out to me, acts of hooliganism against women happen every day in India. Yes, which is why we must protest each one that we can, especially when it happens close to home. When the BJP came to power in Karnataka, I remember many of us felt a palpable sense of fear. And increasingly, it is being validated. The fact that cultural identity is continually being closely tied to such beastly violence also means that we need dialogue on what our culture is, what it means to most of us, and how it’s changing.

At the group blog Ultra Violet, a number of women's organisations have written an open letter to the government of Karnataka:

Is it a traditional Indian value to burn women at the rate of almost 3-4 women a day in the city of Bangalore in cases of “unnatural” deaths of women in marriage? Or preventing them from even being born in the increasing incidence of sex selective abortions […] Perhaps the moral police think that practices like dowry, female foeticide and trafficking of women are part of the same glorious tradition like Sati, the burning of widows on the husband’s pyre, which we remember, a former BJP Chief Minister upheld as part of Hindu culture. […] As women who have always borne the brunt of fundamentalist cultures within the home and the community, we refuse to silently witness the brutal assaults on our pluralistic and open cultures in the name of language, tradition, religion and region that are spreading through our land. We refuse to endorse this deeply divisive political culture that is going to leave behind a legacy of hatred and intolerance for the coming generations.

Prerna, who is based in the United States, mentions that even though some of the attackers were arrested, they have since been released:

President Obama, please don’t close Gitmo! We may have found the perfect candidates for that place. […] These useless ‘Hindu’ zealots are now out on bail without repent and promising to wreck more terror on the women in Mangalore, while everyone with some political stake in the issue is trying to milk it for their cause. The BJP is back-tracking and distancing itself from its Hindu nationalist elements while the Congress party is trying to pin this on the BJP given that Karnataka is a BJP-run state where these fools run rampant.

The attack in Mangalore has prompted a decision to set up “pro-young people” units in New Delhi for February 14, Valentine's Day, whose volunteers will be armed with chilli spray to protect couples against “moral vigilantes”.

4 comments

  • AK Singh

    Pubs are a means of introducing youth into alcoholism in a smart way and restricting access should not be a crime. If it is about individual freedom- a small question needs to be answered. Do people have the right to grow “Ganja” and “Opium” in their fields and sell it to people who want to exercise their freedom to buy it ???? If it can not be allowed why should pub culture be encouraged??? Aren’t both equally bad???

    Ms Renuka Choudhary, the UPA minister, should first violently react against multinational companies who are dumping “highly toxic pesticide which are banned in other parts of the world and are extremely harmful”.

  • […] and widely shared online and became the focal point of a nationwide outrage against the incident (Global Voices) […]

  • […] suppression of women.  Soon, via Facebook, Twitter, Technorati and other social media tools the protest has grown, as Gaurav Mishra describes in this excellent roundup of coverage.  He writes, […]

  • […] dalla notizia di un gruppo di giovani donne a Mangalore, nello stato meridionale del Karnataka, attaccate da vigilanti Hindu in un pub [in]. Presto è emersa la campagna online centrata su un gruppo Facebook che ha pianificato […]

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