30 accused in 2009 Mangaluru pub attack acquitted
Bengaluru: Nine years after the country’s conscience was shaken as it witnessed a mob beating up young women outside a pub in the coastal city of Mangaluru, about 350km from Bengaluru, a local court on Monday acquitted all 30 people involved in the attack.
The acquittals are causing outrage on social media and other platforms, given the fact that the entire episode was captured on video and played in loop for days on end by television news channels.
“30 people were acquitted today. This is a victory for the truth and the courts have given us justice,” Pramod Muthalik, the chief of Hindu fringe group Sri Rama Sene which carried out the attack, said on Monday.
On 24 June 2009, a group of around 25 to 30 self-proclaimed vigilantes barged into Amnesia Pub in Mangaluru and beat up young men and women dancing there, alleging “indecent” behaviour.
Muthalik said that the group had done nothing wrong and the incident had brought in a lot of awareness about the growing pub, bar and club culture.
“We the Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development are severely disappointed by the wholesale acquittal of all the accused in the Amnesia Pub Attack of 2009. This outcome is entirely unexpected and we had been hoping for the strictest punishment for the guilty as per the law,” the forum said in a statement on Monday. They demanded that the state government appeal against the judgement and bring the perpetrators to book.
The incident had, in some ways, brought to light the extreme cases of moral policing carried out by self-styled protectors of culture in coastal districts of Karnataka and other parts of the country.
Then Karnataka chief minister B.S.Yeddyurappa had termed the incident “unfortunate”.
Following the incident, women from all over India sent off hundreds of pink panties—dubbed Pink Chaddi campaign—to Sri Rama Sene to protest against the attack and chauvinistic statements by Muthalik. The movement, coordinated on Facebook, grabbed international media attention at the time.
Muthalik, in turn, was seen organising events against Valentine’s Day and recruiting people across the state to “attack” any couple seen “aping western culture”.
Just before the 2014 elections, Muthalik even joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), albeit only for a few hours as party members objected to his induction.
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