Mangaluru, March 23, 2018: On January 24, 2009 Mangaluru had hit national and international headlines for all the wrong reasons. It was on this day the infamous Amnesia pub attack took place. What happened on that day was before the eyes of the whole world as there were ample photo and video evidences which showed the brutality of the attackers who pushed and pulled the young women in the pub. The attackers, all activists of the right wing outfit Sri Rama Sena had resorted to this move because visiting pubs by girls was not Indian culture.
Almost exactly nine years later, on March 12, 2018, the city hit headlines, once again over the same issue. This time it was a court verdict that acquitted all the accused in the case on the grounds that the evidences produced by the prosecution had failed to prove the charges. It was indeed a shocker for Mangaluru. When the whole world had seen what had happened, when there was video evidence, the case falls apart and turns in favour of the accused who all seem to have good luck on their sides.
Expectedly, the citizens are not happy. They fear the verdict in such a vital case would only further embolden vigilante groups. Sri Rama Sene Chief Pramod Mutalik who was also one of the accused, was in a jubilant mood following the verdict and stated that justice has prevailed.
But, what sort of justice is this? An incident that happened in broad daylight before cameras, girls being slapped,their hairs pulled and they pushed apart and still law can do nothing?
How the investigation into this case turned awry is indeed a debatable point. The victims were never enquired following the happening of such a serious event. More glaringly, the charge sheet filed by the cops with the court was not accompanied by the video evidences.
In fact the investigation did not seem to be aimed at securing justice for the victims. Even the charge sheet had plenty of loopholes, mentioned a report.
It is said that the charge sheet submitted to the court by the investigation officers were not referred to the public prosecutors reportedly taking advantage of a state government order between 2008 and 2012.
The statements of the victims were not recorded. Moreover it took almost a year to file charge sheet in the case due to the mandatory seeking of permission of the State Government before filing a charge sheet wherein certain sections of IPC were invoked. The court examined 12 witnesses of whom nine were independent and three were official. About 27 witnesses were mentioned but many did not turn up. There were a total of 30 accused of whom two died and two had not appeared before the court.
The Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development has expressed its severe disappointment over the wholesale acquittal of all the accused in the case. "This outcome is entirely unexpected and we had been hoping for the strictest punishment for the guilty as per law. We demand that the state government take measures to immediately appeal the present judgment and make every effort possible to prove the guilt of the accused and ensure legitimate punishment for them," the Forum has demanded.
State Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy has already stated that the government will consider filing an appeal against the acquittal of Sri Rama Sene Chief Pramod Muthalik and others in the case after consulting the state’s advocate-general. But, will it be of any help when the victims are not coming forward is the big question. Whatever it is, the Hindu outfit responsible for the attack is surely rejoicing.