Mangalore/Bangalore, July 29 (IANS) Protest rallies and demonstrations were held across Karnataka Sunday condemning the violent moral policing of a pro-Hindu outfit whose eight activists were arrested for allegedly assaulting a dozen youth, including girls in Mangalore.
About 10 women, social and youth organisations took out protest rallies in Mangalore, Bangalore, Mandya, Haveri, Shimoga and Gulbarga against the Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV) for attacking the girls and boys late Sunday on the pretext of moral policing.
Holding banners and placards against the outfit, the protesters demanded a ban on anti-cultural organisations and strict action against perpetrators of violent attack on harmless citizens, especially girls and women.
"The state government should ban rabid organisations like HJV and Ram Sene, which take advantage of a docile government and inept police to indulge in such violent attacks by taking law into their hands," leading women rights activist Manjula Naidu said at one of the protest rallies in Bangalore.
The Congress, the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and regional parties like Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha also condemned the incident and held the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government responsible for the vandalism.
"Activists of pro-Hindu organisations carry such attacks because of the patronage they receive from a BJP government in the state and a scary police, which is wary of taking action fearing reprisal," Congress leader Siddaramaiah told reporters in Mysore.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G. Parameshwara and JD-S president and former state chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy sought stringent action against the guilty under the Goonda Act and a life ban on such outfits for imposing their skewed cultural values in the name of religion.
"Such incidents dent the image of Karnataka and are a blot on our rich cultural heritage where women are respected and girls are cared. The BJP government should rein in such organisations as their activists have become a threat to society," Parameshwara said in Bangalore.
State Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Bipin Gopalakrishna told reporters earlier in Mangalore that eight HJV activists were arrested for assaulting five girls and eight boys when they were celebrating a birthday party at a home-stay (Morning Mist) in the coasta city, 350 km from Bangalore.
"Preliminary investigation indicated there was no rave party at the home-stay as claimed by the accused for attacking the youth. Presence of beer bottles, soft drinks and food packets is no reason to suspect that a rave party was going on there," he said.
In a related development, student federations in Mangalore called for a shutdown of all colleges in the city Monday in protest against the attack on the youth.