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The Rediff Interview/Sri Ram Sena chief Prasad Attavar

Sri Ram Sena chief: These girls are like my sisters

January 27, 2009

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Last Saturday was a black day for Karnataka when a group of girls were beaten up and allegedly molested at a pub in Mangalore by a group of 40 men, reportedly members of the Sri Ram Sena.

The demand for the closure of pubs in Karnataka by the Sri Ram Sena reminds one of the famous argument advanced by C K Daftary, the former attorney general of India, before the Supreme Court, 'A Republic without a pub in it will be a mere relic.'

The Sena, which has donned upon itself the responsibility of moral policing in the state, seems unapologetic about the incident. Sena chief Prasad Attavar says a big issue is being made out of nothing.

Attavar, who is now in police custody, spoke with rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa minutes before his arrest.

Do you agree that it is a shameful incident or are you proud of it?

I am not proud of it. It is a minor incident in Mangalore which has been blown out of proportion.

Girls were beaten up and also molested. Isn't that cheap behaviour?

It is wrong. These girls are like my sisters and I would not approve of anyone raising their hand on my sisters. In a group when people react, things are bound to go wrong. But let me also remind you that this is an issue that has been blown out of proportion.

There is a BJP government in Karnataka and the Opposition would do anything to ensure that name of the government is tarnished.

This is the first time that such an incident is taking place. Hasn't the Sena given Karnataka a bad name?

No. We have not given Karnataka a bad name. Some action was necessary and once again, I say the media hyped it and the Opposition took advantage of the situation. Such incidents have taken place in the past and such a big issue was never made out of it. Why are you singling us out?

You attack women and say that it is just hype. What sort of justification is that?

Once again let me remind you, the Sena's policy is not to attack women. It was just a protest and in a group when people protest, at times, things are bound to go wrong.

It is clear that you are taking advantage of the fact that the BJP is in power in Karnataka and you think that you can get away with anything.

Please correct yourself and stop hurling accusations. The BJP is in power alright. But that does not mean that we are taking advantage of the situation. The government has cracked down on the incident and so many arrests have taken place. In fact, the government has given the police a free hand to act on the matter.

You say that the issue is being hyped up unnecessarily. Why would you stress so much on that point?

It all depends on the victim. In this case, the women are from well-to-do families and have strong financial backing. This is the reason they are able to go to power centres and argue their case.

There are so many atrocities being committed against women across the country and many of them are from the lower strata of society. Do such cases come out in the open? They don't and this is for the simple reason that they cannot afford to do so.

Why don't the likes of (Union Minister for Women's Welfare) Renuka Chaudhary take up these cases too and make a big issue out of it? Let her fight against dowry and other atrocities, and if she does then I could call her fair.

Girls drinking in a pub is nothing new. Who has given you the authority to don the role of a moral policeman?

There is a need to preserve our culture and there is no denying that. In fact, we will continue to fight to preserve our culture.

Are you saying that women should go to pubs and drink, and do drugs in skimpy outfits? Does even Renuka Chaudhary approve of this?

I promise you that I will put an end to this fight if parents of these girls give the police an undertaking that they are fine with their daughters drinking and doping with skimpy clothes on in pubs.

Earlier, you said that these girls are like your sisters. You being the chief of the Sena could have stopped your men from misbehaving with these girls. Why did you keep quiet?

I was not in Mangalore when the incident took place. By the time I returned, the incident had already taken place. If I was around, I would not have approved of the misbehaviour with women.

Is this the first step by the Sena to make its entry into politics?

The Sri Ram Sena is not a political organisation. We are not interested in politics and we are not rowdies. We only preserve the values and culture of Indian society.

Once again I would like to say that it is a small incident which has been blown out of proportion.


The Rediff Interviews

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