Updated: August 26, 2015 5:52:16 pm
The struggle between tradition and modernism, conservativeness and liberalism is a perpetual feature of all societies but when vigilantes set the standards for moral behaviour, it is a clear sign that free spirits have retreated and control freaks have established a firm grip on society.
That it happens so often in Mangalore, despite all the public hue and cry, is an indicator that radical groups and their leaders believe deep down that moral policing helps them to set standards for social behaviour in the community.
The latest incident on Monday, saw a young Muslim man stripped for speaking to a Hindu woman.
Radical groups in Mangalore, cutting across religious lines, have in the last two decades or so established a competitive culture of conservativeness in the hearts and minds of people.
A 2009 attack by vigilantes on women at a pub in Mangalore in the guise of protecting Hindu culture and the 2013 attack by Hindu vigilantes on a private birthday party attended by Hindu girls and Muslim boys hit the headlines. However, hundreds of other similar incidents have also occurred.
According to data collated by the Mangalore unit of the Karnataka Communal Harmony Forum there were 45 moral policing incidents in Mangalore in 2013 of which 23 were carried out by right wing Hindu groups and 16 by Muslim activists; in 2014 there were 39 moral policing incidents reported in the region with 25 involving the Hindu fringe and 14 the Muslim fringe.
While the moral brigades primarily frown on cross cultural relationships, the Muslim brigade also focuses on ensuring that Muslim girls wear burqas and hijabs in public.
In 2015 as many as 10 incidents of moral policing have been reported so far. A Muslim boy who posed playfully on the laps of a bunch of his female classmates in a photograph clicked by a mobile phone was hounded and pursued by Hindu vigilantes earlier this year. Last month an educational trip to Bengaluru by political science students of a local college had to be called off after vigilantes objected to Hindu, Muslim and Christian boys and girls going together.
While most physical attacks are carried out by vagrant youths who are merely foot soldiers in the hierarchy of the radical organizations the leaders of the radical groups suggest there is method behind the moral madness. The attacks are intended to send a wider message through society on moral standards and to gain control over the thinking of people, say right wing leaders.
For radical Hindu right wing youth groups like the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Jagaran Vedike who feed off a strong right wing Hindu network in the region, including some 40,000 RSS shakas, issues like love jihad and protection of Hindu culture are top of the agenda items in terms of goals. Leaders of these groups also aspire to higher positions of power in the larger right wing set up.
“The moral policing attacks have helped society. Now parents keep a close watch on their youth. The youth are also careful about their activities,” says a senior leader of a radical Hindu group.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.