Bengaluru: A section of pro-Hindutva organisations in Karnataka’s Shivamogga are considering submitting a memorandum to the district administration asking it to not allow any event which “uses” women, such as fashion shows and parties that are “not in accordance with Indian culture”.
This comes two days after members of the Bajrang Dal barged into a hotel in Shivamogga to stop a “late-night party” exclusively for women. “This was the first instance that came to our knowledge. We do not allow the organising of such events here. Whatever event uses women, such as fashion shows, etc., we have not supported it at all and won’t in the future as well,” Rajesh Gowda, district convener of the outfit, told ThePrint.
“We are going to tell all colleges and students, have requested the DC (district collector) and SP (Superintendent of Police). We haven’t made any formal representation but we are thinking of doing it,” he added.
On Friday night, a group of men from the Bajrang Dal had allegedly forced entry into Hotel Cliff Embassy on Kuvempu Road in Shivamogga district, about 350 km away from state capital Bengaluru.
Around 70 participants of ‘Ladies Night’ at the hotel were asked to leave and Gowda said the outfit “stopped the party” with help from district police. According to him, the outfit was of the view that the party should not have taken place as it was “against Hindu culture”.
Though Bajrang Dal members claim they had gone along with the police to stop the party, law enforcement officials have a different version of how events unfolded.
“We did not go with them (Bajrang Dal). When we were made aware that they were going, we went on our own to avoid any untoward incident. The event (party) was not stopped,” a police official from the Doddapete station told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
Gowda, meanwhile, said the police are yet to file a case in the matter. He added that the participants of Friday’s event were from nearby medical and ayurvedic colleges, and that “such activities would not be tolerated in the district”.
The hotel staff could not be reached for comment.
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‘Actions & reactions’ — moral policing in Karnataka
Karnataka is not new to vigilante groups and several such outfits engaged in moral policing are active in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-governed state.
In January 2009, Pramod Muthalik’s hard-right group Sri Rama Sene had assaulted women in a pub in Mangaluru. Activists of the Sene had barged into the pub called Amnesia — The Lounge and trashed a group of young women and men, claiming the women were violating Indian values.
Muthalik has since tried to stay in the headlines with his organisation protesting against Valentine’s Day and other occasions in the garb of “protecting culture” and resisting “westernisation”.
There have been other incidents of moral policing over the years in Karnataka and pro-Hindutva groups have also targeted minorities, accusing the latter of “love jihad”.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s statement on moral policing in October 2021 did not help the situation. “When sentiments are hurt, it is natural that there are actions and reactions. Even the youth should keep in mind these sentiments and act accordingly. This is a societal question. Society needs morality. Can we live without morality? No, we cannot. Relationships and peace are maintained by this morality,” Bommai had said.
Shivamogga is one of the more communally-sensitive districts of Karnataka and the Bajrang Dal and other pro-Hindutva outfits have a strong presence here. It is also the home district of former CM B.S. Yediyurappa as well as other senior leaders of the BJP.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)
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