‘We were molested in the name of God ’

MANGALORE: “The entire scene has been playing out in my mind over and over again,” said a woman who was in ‘Amnesia,’ the pub that was attacked by a mob of Sri Ram Sene (SRS) members on Saturday, 24 Jan. She was sitting at the reception counter when the mob entered the compound and was witness to the incident from beginning to end. She said that before barging into the pub, the mob went into a huddle and prayed silently. They then began raising slogans ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai,’ ‘Jai Sri Ram,’ ‘Bajrang Dal ki Jai’ and ‘Sri Ram Sene ki Jai.’
“We have been molested and humiliated in the name of God and country by people who obviously have no regard for either of the two,” she told The Hindu on Monday.  Around 4 p.m. on January 24, a group of over 40 people, wearing saffron headbands and scarves, came in through the main gate and approached the bouncer of the pub.
“They asked to be let in so that they could get everybody out of the joint,” she said. Even as the bouncers negotiated with them at the entrance, the pub’s staff quickly closed the doors, and locked the woman and the bouncers outside. Hearing the noise, a curious kitchen staffer opened the rear door to see what was happening. The mob seized this opportunity and barged in through the kitchen. The victim too followed the mob indoors through the back door. “Once inside, they went straight for the women guests. They rounded them up at the centre of the dance floor and then started beating them mercilessly,” she said. After the initial beating, some of the assailants began to single out some of them and molested them. “One of them stripped a girl and groped her. She was also badly beaten up. We are still trying to trace her,” she said. According to her, several girls were targeted similarly.
“They were laughing when they were doing all this. It was just fun for them,” she said. The attackers then targeted the men who dared come to the rescue of the girls. The narrator herself was slapped a few times. What tormented her was the reaction of certain sections of the media.
“They arrived on the scene even before the attackers did,” she said, and added, “there was no nude dancing or prostitution going on there as reported.”
She and a few other victims are now trying to form a support group of those who were attacked in the incident. “Some of the women are in shock because of the humiliation they had to face on television,” she said. “We are trying to get professional counsellors for the victims and for their families.” Asserting her right to frequent the pub, she said, “We will also soon launch a protest on the streets to voice our opposition. We want to tell the world that we will not tolerate the growth of a Taliban-style group in this city.”
*Sudipto Mondal in The Hindu

BACKGROUNDER
Three major radical outfits in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district operate with three different agendas. These right-wing groups operate without treading on each other’s toes. Bajrang Dal opposes conversions. Hindu Janajagrithi Samithi works against denigrating Hindu gods in any form. The main agenda of SRS is putting an end to fashion shows, which they say denigrates Hindu culture. SRS is an offshoot of the Bajrang Dal. It was born as the Karnataka unit of the Shiv Sena, when Bajrang Dal state convener Pramod Mutalik walked out in a huff after being sidelined by the BJP over cow slaughter. Since then the Karnataka unit of the Shiv Sena has ceased to exist and SRS was born in 2007 after Shiv Sena took a pro-Maharashtra stand on the Belgaum issue. All these outfits operate with impunity, without fear of the law.

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