By Chris Dsouza
Mangaluru, August 29, 2015: The torturing, beating, and stripping of a young Muslim man by a mob of vandals connected to the Bajrang Dal faction in the heart of the city, and that even in broad daylight amidst impotent onlookers gathered to witness a gruesome act of violence, has once again put Mangalore in the national headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The man was tied to an electrical pole, stripped naked, abused, and thrashed in public for the alleged ‘crime’ of interacting with his female friend, who happened to belong to the Hindu community. This happened at a time when India is demanding liberty and equality and effectively fighting to curb sexual violence against women.
Mangalore seems to have fallen into a deep slumber. Anybody can fall prey to the fury of a mob and nobody is safe unless and until law enforcement agencies tackle these issues. Currently, the future of Mangalore seems dreary and depressing.
Moral policing is nothing new in Mangalore; this sort of hooliganism has become routine and the state and its police haven’t had the guts and the willingness to put an end to it. It seems as if the people of the state have more power than those in official positions. Needless to say, the regions of Mangalore and Udupi have very little to boast about. Although they brag about its literacy levels, the regions stand religiously divided, women feel increasingly unsafe, and societies have fallen to superstition and orthodoxy and therefore are spineless when it comes to dealing with injustice and social evils.
Hundreds of bars and wine shops have mushroomed all over the city, allowing easy access to thousands of individuals to get inebriated. By evening, our streets have a strong stench of liquor; half of the male crowd is visibly found intoxicated thanks to cheap liquor, ganja, and other forms of drugs. What follows is rash driving, hurling verbal abuses, street fights, and rampant acts of crime, which leaves the city in a state of chaos.
It’s become a huge challenge going out at night as the city is unguarded. The number of road accidents and the causalities relating to those accidents furthermore supports the above mentioned points. Unfortunately, nobody bothers to raise this critical issue. Moreover, people have become heavily self-indulgent and egoistic, those in the position to help are never seen around and traditional Mangalorean courtesy has eroded over a period of time.
Modern gadgets have become somewhat of a nuisance since they have fallen into the hands of those who sensationalise every little issue. Rather than technology having a positive effect, it’s become increasingly negative, as people use them for spreading false rumours. The brave Delhi student, Jasleen, used social media in the correct way when a few days ago she named and shamed her assaulter. That’s how social media needs to be used, rather than glorifying instances which don’t deserve to be on the forefront.
A couple of years ago, several girls were thrashed, dragged, and humiliated by saffron mobsters at a homestay resort attending a party. Such a horrifying incident warranted immediate action, yet only a few civil rights groups and political organisations protested for a few weeks, yet the issue dissipated within a few weeks.
Our state police needs dire revamping and reconditioning in terms of functioning. It does not have the machinery required to reach out to the civil society, therefore the gap of communication between civilians and the state police is extremely blurred.
The police need to realise that there are different approaches of dealing with criminals and civilians. Unfortunately, the police have muddled the two while dealing with people, thereby creating a legitimate fear amongst the people regarding credibility of the police. Most people hesitate approaching the police when it comes to serious matters due to the highly unpredictable and nonchalant behaviour of police officers.
In cases relating to moral policing and violence against couples, one needs to be cautious while pointing fingers and should avoid a selective position. Both Hindu and Muslim right-wing gangs, such as Bajrang Dal and the Student Islamic Movement of India and their offshoots, have been actively perpetuating such ghastly acts over the past 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 the common man. These groups have openly sworn that they won’t allow their women to interact or acquaint themselves with men belonging to the opposite community. In financial terms, they have illegally and unjustly purchased the shares of rights belonging to women and hold the reins of their fate in their hands.
It’s high time someone in the upper echelons takes note of these instances before Mangalore turns into a state which is run by gangs rather than the police.