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India: PUCL report on cultural vigilantism against women and minorities in Karnataka

by People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Karnataka Chapter, 11 April 2009

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The below PUCL report was written by a fact-finding team consisting of:
- Ramdas Rao: PUCL—Karnataka, Shakun Mohini: Vimochana, B.N.Usha: Hengasara Hakkina Sangha and Arvind Narain: Alternative Law Forum

Excerpts from the Introduction:

It was only after the continuous telecast of the images of the women who were subjected to a horrific assault by cadres of the Sri Ram Sene in a pub in Mangalore on January 24, 2009, that public attention gravitated towards what was happening in Mangalore. Even prior to this incident, The Hindu and many other newspapers had for many months reported various incidents of cultural policing where boys and girls from different religious
communities were attacked merely for being together. The sense we got from discussions with social activists based in Dakshina Kannada was that there was a lot more to what was happening there than was apparent in the sporadic incidents which made it to the national press. We felt that the kind of incidents that were coming to the surface, be it the attack on women in the pub or attacks on anyone who dared to cross religious boundaries and interact, pointed to a new phase of communal politics.
- [. . .]
- Despite the Sangh Parivar’s disclaimer to the contrary, Sri Rama Sene has very close connections with the Sangh Parivar, ideologically and organizationally. Prasad Attavar, convener of Sri Rama Sene, has admitted that the pub attack was carried out jointly by the cadres of Sri Rama Sene and Bajrang Dal who are working towards a common goal. The leaders of these organizations are different, but the cadres staging such attacks see themselves as part of the same programme. The Sene is part of a long-standing Hindutva project of restructuring and redefining the ideal Hindu woman, and, in the current context, of confronting what the Sangh Parivar calls “the love jehad”, i.e., a perceived Muslim strategy to defile the Indian woman. The rise of Sri Rama Sene and other outfits, such as Hindu Jagran Vedike, Hindu Jannajagriti Samithi, Sanathan Sanstha, and so on, points to the emergence of a radical project of the Sangh Parivar to move towards the stage of an armed offensive to realize its fascist objectives.

Cultural Policing in Dakshina Kannada
Vigilante Attacks on Women and
Minorities, 2008-09
A Report by People’s Union for Civil
Liberties, Karnataka, (March, 2009, 103 pages)