As outrage grew over the attack on partying girls and boys at a homestay in Mangalore by rightwing activists, the Karnataka government on Monday termed it as an 'inhuman act' and said the accused have been booked under stringent IPC provisions including attempt to rape.
Twelve persons have been arrested and cases for offences including dacoity, attempt to rape, unlawful assembly,
assault, threat to life and wrongful restraint slapped against them, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told the Assembly which was rocked by the July 28 moral policing act.
"It's an inhuman act. They should be punished. No question of protecting anybody", Shettar said as angry opposition Congress and Janatal Dal-Secular members raised the issue, targeting the BJP Government blaming its 'soft attitude' for such incidents.
Making a statement on the issue, Shettar said 13 students, including five girls, were at the homestay to
celebrate the birthday of one of them when they were attacked by Hindu Jagarana Vedike activists along with 40-50 people around 6.30 pm on Saturday.
They indulged in physical assault and misbehaviour, snatched a gold chain and took away Rs 10,000 from the inmates and used a sharp weapon, he said.
"The arrested persons have been questioned and they have revealed a few more names. Special squads have been formed (to nab them). The case is under further investigation," he said.
Demanding a ban on organisations like Bajrang Dal, Sriram Sene and Hindu Jagarana Vedike, invoking sections of Goonda Act and attempt to murder against the accused, the Opposition staged a walk-out, saying the government should actually be doing more.
Recalling the infamous pub attack in Mangalore in 2009, attacks on churches in coastal region and some acts of moral policing, Siddaramaiah said had the government taken stern action and punished the guilty, the latest incident would not have happened.
The issue also rocked the legislative council where noisy scenes were witnessed when Opposition Congress and JDS raised the matter.
A division bench of the Karnataka high court headed by Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen expressed displeasure over the attack on students. "Nobody comes to court with issues concerning attack on women. You call Mangalore the cultural capital of the state. But attacks happen on women there," the bench observed while hearing a public interest litigation seeking direction to Kendra Sahitya Academy to consider Konkani language for awards.
Meanwhile, colleges in Mangalore remained closed on Monday in response to a bandh called by students to protest the incident. Police said no untoward incident had been reported in the city where prohibitory orders for three days is in force since Sunday as a precautionary measure.