By Azra Qaisar:
Six years ago, this city was in news for assaulting women going to pubs. Time has passed by, but not much has changed for Mangalore. From attacking homestays to targeting ice cream parlours, fundamental outfits are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the “Indian-ness” of our culture is restored and retained. In February earlier this year, a Muslim youth was beaten up by fundamentalists for posing with his classmates in a picture they did not see in “good taste“. Just this month, two girls were suspended from their college because their pictures with alcohol by their side went viral. In another incident on 25th of August, a man was beaten up for talking to a co-worker from another community. Why is the youth of Mangalore being told what to do? And why is their basic right to freedom being taken away by the moral police?
As per data collected by the Mangalore unit of the Karnataka Communal Harmony Forum, there have been 45 moral policing incidents in Mangalore in 2013. In 2014, the number of incidents was 39. This year, 10 incidents have been reported till now. Vigilante organisations, both Hindu and Muslim, in the area are doing their best to make sure that there is no interaction between the Hindu and Muslim youth in the area. They are against any form of communication – friendly, official or romantic – between men and women belonging to different religions. They are also trying to ensure that women don’t cross the boundaries that have been set by the society and patriarchal norms for them. The ideology at play here is age old – using women as the site of struggle between religious factions and also as a means to maintain the “cultural integrity” of the area. The freedom of movement and the choice of women (and men) is being questioned time and again. Majoritarianism seems to be gripping the city and dividing it on communal lines. This may just be the foundation of a very dangerous and intolerant situation between the two communities, with political parties to benefit.
Why are the attackers so unabashed and how do they have the audacity to do what they do? As per the local police, the attackers are affiliated to various organisation – Bajrang Dal, Popular Front of India, Sri Ram Sena to name a few. These groups are politically backed and taking action against them becomes hard. Cases registered in 2009 are yet to see a trial so the judicial stand on the issue remains a question unanswered still. It is important to take serious action in these cases rather than letting them lapse. The basic question here is that who are moral outfit to tell people how to live their lives? The fundamental right of every citizen – freedom – is being taken away and goonda raj is letting it happen. These unnecessary interventions are undermining the thinking capabilities of the youth and also fly in the face of the freedom granted by the Constitution of India.