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Religious divide cause for recurring attacks in Mangalore

July 29, 2012 16:28 IST

People who were earlier involved in religious clashes in the city are now playing the role of moral police, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

First it was the Sri Ram Sene then the Bajrang Dal and now the Hindu Jagran Vedike. While the Bajrang Dal, which was responsible for the church attacks, took cover under the guise of conversions in Mangalore, the other two outfits have donned the role of moral police and have been responsible for several incidents in and around Mangalore. 

Moral policing is not new to Mangalore. While some term it as a publicity stunt, others feel that the influx from the Kerala border and also other states has beaten the image of Mangalore.

Incidents of moral policing have been on the rise since the year 2008. While the moral brigade claims that it needs to be done since the city is losing its culture, there are several who feel that this is nothing but a publicity stunt.

There has always been a religious clash in Mangalore and its surrounding areas since a long time. The same people who have been involved in religious clashes are now playing the role of moral police.

Mangalore has several sensitive areas thanks to an oversensitive border with Kerala. The general complaint has always been that youth from Kasaragod are luring innocent girls and hence the need to moral police has become bigger. The concept called as 'Love Jihad' was also something that was first found in Mangalore and there have been a series of protests due to this.

The Congress complains that all these outfits take umbrage under the Bharatiya Janata Party and the fact that there have been no prosecutions in such cases is an indicator that the government in Karnataka is very soft on them. However, these groups argue that when the Congress was in power they let such incidents go by and this has damaged the social fabric of society.

While the politics and the reasons behind such incidents are beyond the understanding of the common man, the fact is that Mangalore has always been in the news.

The first of the incidents dates back to November 2008, when a boy and girl from different communities were roughed up when they were having their food at a hotel in the Balmatta area.

The following month, a college bus was stopped at the Pumpwell circle and all non Hindus on the bus were allegedly beaten up.

Another month later a hotel was attacked for serving beef, and in the same month the infamous pub incident took place in which members of the Sri Ram Sene beat up women.

A month later the daughter of an MLA was threatened when she was found travelling with a youth by the name Shabib. The activists said that she was travelling with a boy from another community. However, this was later argued to be a case of political rivalry.

In the same month a 16-year-old student committed suicide because a mob had threatened and also humiliated her for going out with a boy from another community.

In addition to this, Mangalore and its surrounding areas have also seen violent incidents on the issue of burqa. A college in Buntwal had banned the use of the head scarf and then recently it was the St Aloysious college which imposed a similar rule. These incidents saw some violent protests by Muslim groups.

Mangalore, according to the locals and the police, has had a big religious divide since long. Not only is the divide found in politics or among students' unions, it has also spilt into the mafia as well.

Take the case of Altaf, an accomplice of gangster Chhota Shakeel. He said during investigations that he was trying to target members of the Chhota Rajan gang. Police in Mangalore say that the fight is now between criminals from the Muslim and Hindu community. Around 16 years back the D-Gang was active in Mangalore but with the advent of Ravi Poojary and Chhota Rajan, the D-Gang soon started losing ground.

Another reason that has created this divide in Mangalore is due to the increasing clout of some terror groups in the neighbouring areas. The argument has been that there is an influx from Bhatkal and also Kasargod in Kerala which has led to a lot of illegal activities.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore