A Muslim man was stripped naked, tied to a pole and flogged for over an hour at a crowded marketplace in Mangalore, a communally polarized coastal town in India, for trying to help a Hindu woman who had sought a loan from him. Police officials reached the spot only after local television channels started airing visuals of the incident on August 24, eventually arresting 14 Hindu hardliners while 16 others fled the scene.
The man, who happens to be a manager at an accessories shop in the small town, explained to police officials that the woman, who works as a sales girl at the same place, had asked him to loan her Rs 2,000. According to the man’s complaint, when the two were on their way to a nearby ATM so he could withdraw the necessary cash for his colleague, a group of Bajrang Dal activists, armed with knives and rods, accosted them. When the woman tried to defend him, the religious radicals abused and slapped her, before shooing her away. Then, the mob of 30 odd activists stripped the man naked and tied him to a pole, before taking turns to flog him.
In a shocking turn of events however, the woman retracted her initial statement and accused her colleague of outraging her modesty the following day. She was seen addressing a press conference alongside one of Bajrang Dal’s most popular local leaders.
“He (her companion and a colleague) tried to drag me into his car. They (Bajrang Dal supporters) responded to my calls for help,” the woman said on the day the media reported about the incident.
When asked to clarify why she was seen trying to help her companion the previous day, the woman refused to comment. She also had no response to why she was abused and slapped by the same mob that apparently gathered to protect her.
Such brazen attacks by radical Hindu groups like Bajrang Dal, Hindu Jagarana Vedike, Sri Rama Sene and Islamist groups like Popular Front of India, have often been reported not only in Mangalore but also in neighbouring towns like Honnavar, Udupi, Karwar and Bhatkal over the past decade.
Bajrang Dal is a militant Hindu organization that functions as the youth wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, whose ideology stems from Hindu fundamentalism. Founded in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in 1984, it has since spread across the country.
Civil society activists blamed the incident on the Bhartiya Janta Party-led government that was in power from 2008 to 2013 in the southern state of Karnataka. They alleged that the BJP, which happens to be the umbrella party for Bajrang Dal and similar Hindutva-driven political groups, had encouraged religious radicals to unabashedly carry out such crimes in broad daylight. However, even after the state government changed hands in 2013, with the Congress taking over, such attacks continued to take place, suggest statistics.
Photo Credits: News 18