'Moral police' thrash youngsters at party, 8 arrested

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Mangalore, July 28: Activists owing allegiance to a Hindu protagonist organisation on Saturday allegedly raided a local private homestay and assaulted girls and boys present there at a weekend party, reviving fears of moral policing and drawing state-wide condemnation.

A group of about 50 persons, affiliated to Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV), raided the building located at Padilu, about five km from here, and assaulted girls and boys who were partying there alleging that it was a rave party and illegal activities were being carried out there. Two girls and as many boys were injured in the attack, they said.

Soon after news about the attack spread, women organisations and opposition parties hit out at the culprits and also the BJP government. The incident also sparked off protests by various groups -- both in support of and against the HJV, forcing police to resort to mild lathicharge to disperse the agitating groups. While a group of people endorsed the attack, the other decried it and demanded action against culprits for taking law into their hands.

Some local people expressing their ire over police, alleged that the authorities did not act on their complaint to check illegal activities going on in the resort, an accusation rejected by Deputy Commissioner Channappa Gowda. "The building was being used as home-stay. The authorities have not received any complaint so far," he said.

This is the second such incident here after the January 24, 2009, attack on a pub by right-wing organisation Srirama Sene. The incident has come as a huge embarrassment to the ruling BJP as opposition party leaders targeted it for its failure to check pro-Hindu activists and their moral policing.

Condemning the attack, Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka, who is in-charge of Home department, directed police to arrest immediately those behind the incident. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said the government would initiate stern action after receiving a report on the incident.

ADGP Bipin Gopalakrishna arrived in Mangalore for an on-the-spot study of the incident and initiated further action as authorities clamped prohibitory orders under section 144 as a precautionary measure against planned protests by some organisations.

Eight persons were arrested later in connection with the attack.

PTI

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