#India – Every Move She Makes. They’ll Be Watching Her #moralpolicing #Vaw


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Rising hemlines lead to rising TRPs. Aradhna Wal examines a commercial news industry committed to sleaze, to lechery and to shaming young women

There’s something rotten in the states of  and . And it seems the Kannada and Telugu news channels have identified the problem — girls gone wild, fuelled by alcohol. On 14 May, Karnataka’s leading regional news channel, TV9 Kannada, ran a programme, Olage Serideru Gundu (literally, ‘once alcohol is inside’), a fine assortment of video nasties from across the country, showing the great evils of girls drinking — the ruckus on the street, clothes askew, clashes with cops.

For some years now, the disapproving cultural policing of a class of girls — ones who can afford to go out to drink — has become a staple on regional news in both states. There is massive viewership, particularly of sleazy ‘true crime’ reports, and so editors and programming heads encourage reporters to follow women and young couples, to stake out pubs, nightclubs and make-out spots. A cursory search on YouTube reveals the many news reports with such eye-catching titles as ‘Drunk women causing hulchul’, ‘Drunk women causing hungama’, or ‘How to ban rave parties to save the youth’.

“We show boys too, but a girl being daring on screen instantly catches the viewers’ attention,” says Shreeti Chakraborty, senior producer with a leading Kannada channel. One clip was of an altercation between four female students of NALSAR University of Law and reporters from the Telugu news channel ABN Andhra Jyothy, outside Rain pub in Hyderabad’s Banjara Hills on the night of 11 April. Shruthi, Megha, Prachi and Adwitiya angrily confronted a drunk man filming them on his phone. The confrontation attracted a mob and reporters from ABN. Apparently, the drunk man was a reporter who had telephoned his colleagues. The footage was picked up by other news channels. Several of them branded the girls immoral, drunk and half-naked and even questioned the pub’s licence.

Watching the ABN footage is instructive. The camera pans up and down the women’s bodies. It is exploitative; consent is not an option, probably not even worth a thought. The viewer is implicated by the camera’s roving eye, a fellow voyeur leering at barefoot girls in short dresses. The cameraman follows the girls to their taxi, thrusting his camera through the door, his taunts provoking the girls to shout insults. Their expressions of fury at being cornered were circulated on primetime news as the faces of unacceptable modernity, of aggressive young women out at night, women who must be checked.

One irate senior journalist with a leading Telugu news channel described the girls as “public nuisance”, and launched into a tirade about “minors” getting drunk, abusing reporters and partying late into the night. He blames this “anti-social behaviour” on both NALSAR and the students themselves: “They even shot a promotional video for the ‘daaru party’ on campus. Look at the things they say in that.”

Confronted by this (self ) righteous indignation, the students launched an online campaign on change.org to prove that they had been harassed by the media. They compiled evidence to show that they were neither minors, nor drinking after legal hours (11 pm), and the leaked video that the news channels broadcast was not a promo for the party. Raj Singh, the owner of Rain, has stated that the ages of everyone at the party were checked and the girls left around 11 pm, not past midnight as the reporters alleged.

“The police raided us at 11.45 pm after the incident was over,” says Singh. “At 12.45 am the reporters barged into my club, beat up my security guard and placed bottles on the bars to suggest that the pub was still open.” His decision to stand up for the girls has meant that his pub “has been raided almost nightly by every department imaginable looking for some illegal activity”.

In response, Andhra Pradesh’s Electronic Media Association of Journalists put up a counter petition on change.org, asking for the girls who “assaulted reporters” to be condemned. It garnered over 5,000 signatures. But during routine checks, change.orgtraced the bulk of these signatures to one IP address, proving that most were fake. After they removed those signatures, only 132 were left.

The girls’ determination to stand up for themselves sets them apart in a state where reporters looking to manufacture lurid stories appear to operate without any kind of sanction. “We had to fight back,” says Shruthi Chandrasekaran, one of the girls involved in that now infamous April incident. “What’s happening is just wrong and too many people seem resigned to it. We don’t even know what motivates the media’s malice towards us.”

Andhra Pradesh has some 16 regional news channels. Sevanti Ninan, editor of The Hoot, an online media watchdog, has written about how corporate ownership sets the terms and how the need to be profitable means a redrawing of the lines between public and private. In a market exploding with money and fierce competition, no channel can afford for viewers to switch off. Thus, there’s little distinction between what channels define as eyeball-grabbing reportage and salacious entertainment. News seems to essentially mean reality TV served with an indigestible side dish of hypocritical, moralistic commentary.

GS Rammohan, associate editor with ABN Andhra Jyothy, accepts that TV news has gone insane, driven by ratings and profit. According to the , what sells is sex and crime. “People enjoy watching other people’s private lives on TV,” he says. As long, apparently, as the “other people” are comely young women. The same senior journalist who denounced the NALSAR students stated matter-of-factly that channels look to show beautiful women onscreen as de facto policy. Local media in Hyderabad and Bengaluru, Rammohan says, are similar in this regard. Though Karnataka has six regional news channels as opposed to 16, its crime news coverage is famous for stings, both successful and attempted, on bars in Bengaluru, Mangalore and Manipal. Many of these stings are the work of reporters employed by Suvarna News 24×7 and TV9 Kannada, the two most popular regional news channels in Karnataka. Both blame the other for lowering the tone of the public conversation with leering, tabloid journalism.

Raoof Kadavanad, a crime reporter with a leading English daily in Hyderabad, watches the tactics of TV reporters with some bemusement. He describes how crime reporters seek out couples in public spaces and film them with hidden cameras. The footage is then screened to bolster the argument that the behaviour of young women in the city is deplorable. After the NALSAR incident, TV5 aired a segment about Hyderabad’s nightlife that deplored what was “happening to our sisters and daughters”

In July 2012, Tonic, another pub in Banjara Hills, was raided for having a party long after legal hours. The media filmed the raid, focussing largely on the women in that familiar, creepy style. Depressingly, this behaviour is typical. In January 2012, Suvarna broadcast a ‘sting’ on illegal bars in Bengaluru. The ‘illegality’ of said establishments was, of course, of less concern than filming the girls on their cameras. In 2011, a medical student was photographed at a party in Le Rock Cafe in Bengaluru. Her picture was published in a Kannada newspaper belonging to the Telugu channel Sakshi TV as an example of the malign influence of western culture on the present generation.

The combination of sanctimoniousness and aggression is visible. Girls are hunched over, hiding their faces, surrounded by baying men. The footage is edited insidiously, with strategic blurring implying nudity when a girl is wearing a dress deemed insufficiently modest. Shame is thrust on the girls. “It was terrifying,” remembers Shruthi, “to be chased by this man with a camera, who won’t even let you shut the car door.” Her fear has been felt before by innumerable women running away from cameras, desperately covering their faces with dupattas, scarves or their own hands.

Another popular tactic used by reporters is to wait around with traffic police conducting its weekly drunk-driving tests at various checkpoints around Hyderabad. Every Friday and Saturday night, a small group of reporters armed with lights and cameras film these checks, waiting for women who might be stopped. “Channels use that footage in different packages to say different things for months. People enjoy it,” says ABN Andhra Jyothy’s Rammohan.

In Bengaluru, Ajit Hanamakkanavar, the Crime Bureau Chief of Suvarna, acknowledges that “news has crossed over the line to  and reality TV”. “In the TV business, the remote control is your biggest enemy. No one watches serious, investigative stories,” he adds. The channel has a “legal team at the ready” to deal with accusations of slander and defamation. The reporters are often tipped off about the bar raids by the police. “A commissioner will not be my source,” says Hanamakkanavar, “but a constable will be.” A senior police officer confirmed that the constabulary and reporters often share information.

Both Rammohan and Hanamakkanavar put the blame squarely on upper management. The top brass have cynically turned moral policing into a lucrative business. Many of the reporters, who often come with their own cultural baggage, actually believe they are making a valuable difference, providing a much-needed check to out-of-control youth. It is not enough for them to observe society; they feel the need to become enforcers of a particular, usually imaginary, cultural code. Sampath Kumar, a crime reporter for ABN, earnestly tries to explain how “these people” can be kept in check “through fear of the media and by being made to understand that their behaviour is wrong”. He claims the reporters have the public on their side and that tip-offs come just as often from their audience as from the police.

In Karnataka, there is also a penchant for blaming the outsider, or the ‘foreign hand’ — students and professionals, who flock to cities from other states and countries, and bring money, decadence and loose morals. The pressure to make the money to lead extravagant lifestyles also results in crime, say reporters. Rajesh Rao, the Mangalore crime reporter for TV9 Kannada, says that he’s “seen what goes on in these pubs, what drugs are exchanged. These petticoat parties where girls wear short clothes”. Suresh Kumar Shetty, the Mangalore crime reporter for Suvarna, worries about the effects the “lavish lifestyle” of rich students from outside the state have on locals.

Like Rao, Shetty admits that his channel has attempted to smuggle cameras into popular bars. He once asked two friends of his, who were not reporters, to enter a bar as a couple and film the goings-on. To validate the rightness of the cause, he refers to the tragic suicide of Sneha, an 18-year-old Mangalore girl, in February this year. A drug addict, she reportedly killed herself because she couldn’t afford the next fix. Her parents spoke about a girl who used to top her class at school until she started going to parties in hotels and pubs and was introduced to drugs.

This story fits conveniently into Rao and Shetty’s argument that local youths are tempted into vices they cannot afford and that the media must protect them. Naveen Soorinje, the Mangalore reporter for Kasthuri TV, disagrees. With vehemence. He made national headlines last year after the 23 July 2012 homestay incident in which activists from the Hindu Jagarana Vedike attacked boys and girls at a birthday party. Soorinje’s coverage shed light on what had happened, yet he was named as an accused in the case by the police. Released on bail in March this year, all charges against Soorinje were dropped by the Karnataka government on 14 June. Having consistently reported on cultural policing, he points out when right wing groups such as the Sri Ram Sene go on one of their periodic moral policing jaunts in Mangalore, the media, tipped off by these groups, is close behind. It’s a cosy relationship. The media gets political backing for its own occasional hand-waving about decadent modern culture and the right wing groups get the soapbox and spotlight they so desire. “When the right wing groups are not around,” says Soorinje, “TV channels film young people in pubs and ask ‘what is the Hindu sangathan doing now?’ When TV9 does something, Suvarna tries to catch up by doing something more sensational.”

This role of social responsibility is championed by TV9 Telugu’s executive editor Dinesh Akkula and Input Editor Arvind Yadav. According to them, the story of Telugu media is one of transformation — from a cutthroat business to responsible journalism that is the hallmark of the likes of TV9. “Maturity is coming in slowly,” says Akkula, “we stick to the guidelines recommended by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA). We don’t target specific people or groups, but we show what’s in the public interest.”

In TV9 Telugu’s infamous Planet Romeo sting (February 2011), a reporter posed as a gay man on the site Planet Romeo and befriended other members, eliciting intimate details while recording his conversations. The ‘report’ was broadcast with lots of hand-wringing about how Hyderabad was falling prey to the fashionable gay culture. The conversations were played on TV, revealing identities, personal sexual preferences and histories. Prominent gay rights lawyer Aditya Bandopadhyay filed a complaint and the NBA fined the channel 1 lakh, a piffling sum for a network of TV9’s size.

That appalling piece of reporting shows that it’s not just middle and upper-middle class girls in the firing line, but all manner of easy targets. The Telugu news channel NTV 24×7 once filmed transgenders at an LGBT awareness event held by the NGO Suraksha and then aired that footage in a completely different context, when a man was murdered at a popular cruising spot. TV9 Kannada did a major expose in 2009 on the “Devdasi tradition” among sex workers of Kudligi in Bellary district. The story’s fallout, as documented in a fact-finding report by Vimochana, a women’s organisation, and Nava Jeevana Mahila Okkuta, a Dalit Women’s Collective, was that these sex workers, previously accepted by a wider community, were now ostracised. They had lost their only source of livelihood, couldn’t send their children to school and were shunned by the neighbours. The TV9 journalist, Prakash Noolvi, went on to win the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award in January 2012. “The reporter didn’t hide the faces of these women,” says Akkai Padmashali, the media coordinator of Sangama, an LGBT organisation. “They cheated these women by posing as clients. One had even been visiting them for sex.” She angrily recounts the many times reporters secretly film sex workers to extort money from them.

Activists and intellectuals point to how a large section of society gives legitimacy to the media and other self-appointed moral police. People will be outraged by a girl being beaten up, but will also say that she should not have been out drinking in the first place. Conservatives who might be of completely different backgrounds find common ground when setting limits on women’s behaviour. Shaming is a cultural reality. Madhavi Lata, a scriptwriter and former reporter for NTV, is honest about the fact that truth is often warped to fit viewers’ preconceptions. But even she asks why “these girls give people the chance to say something about them. They could go out for a drink in more decent clothes”.

Hyderabad-based activist Tejaswini Madabhushi recalls media reaction to the 5 January ‘Midnight March’ in the city, an attempt to take back the night from sexual predators and the moral police. “Vernacular news reporters,” says Madabhushi, “kept asking us why we wanted to go out in the night and provoke men like them.”

Pop culture too reflects this attitude. Audiences cheer when Telugu heroes verbally and physically abuse heroines. It’s part of a nationwide acceptance of . Sandhya, a leading gender rights activist in Hyderabad, says people “want to see women as sex objects. Studios call us for panel discussions and pit us against someone from the right wing. We tell them to leave the girls alone and start telling the boys how to behave.” R Akhileshwari, a senior print journalist, points out that it’s “always the woman’s body” that is the locus of censure or dispute. “Why do these channels not look at the liquor shops on the road, where men buy drinks, enjoying a session right there by the roadside?”

Perhaps legal challenges will force TV channels to modify their intrusive behaviour. “It is a violation of privacy,” says Bengaluru-based lawyer Akmal Rizvi. “It can be interpreted as stalking, which comes under Section 354D of the IPC.” One of Hyderabad’s eminent lawyers says, on the condition of anonymity, that some reporters “blackmail people for money by threatening to show their faces on TV”. The NALSAR students cited the reporters’ violations of the NBA’s regulations concerning stings and media ethics. The reporters argue that roads are public areas.

“Moral policing on TV goes back to the ’90s when crime shows started,” says Deepu, a Bengaluru- based documentary filmmaker with Pedestrian Pictures. He reiterates the point that journalists are part of the social fabric that consumes these shows. But the very morality these channels pretend to is hypocritical. “Why would you want to see that picture of the skimpily dressed girl if you are so moral?” asks Nisha Susan, freelance journalist and writer, who began the ‘Pink Chaddi’ campaign in 2009 in response to Sri Ram Sene goons beating up women in a Mangalore pub. Thousands of people around the country responded to her call to send the thugs the aforementioned items of women’s underwear. She adds that each generation must push the boundaries for acceptable female behaviour and be prepared for the inevitable friction.

As of now, vernacular media is working hard to play to its audience’s prejudices. An audience that tunes in repeatedly to be scandalised. Perhaps one day, these channels will be overtaken by their viewers as they’re forced to adapt to changing times. One day, the audience will note the rage on a young girl’s face as she is backed into a corner by a reporter wielding a camera. And then they’ll no longer listen to the reporter’s claims that it is the young girl whose behaviour is immoral.

aradhna@tehelka.com

(Published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 10 Issue 27, Dated 6 July 2013)

 

Karnataka – What women want – Open letter to Congress #Vaw #Womenrights


Vaishalli Chandra , oneindia one news : Friday, May 10, 2013,

Bangalore, May 9: With Congress getting a clear lead in the recently held Karnataka Assembly Elections 2013, they are busy deciding who will be the next CM. There is one issue that takes centre stage for women – that of their safety. An open letter to Congress – on what women expect out of the government: To Congress, Congratulations on your win. I am sure, it will feel good that finally you have come to power in a state that was beginning to turn saffron. Now, let me not beat around the bush and put forth my wish list (actually it is more of a demand, but I will try a polite approach, for now). Under the last government, I did not feel safe

Wish #1: NO moral policing, no deadlines, whatsoever. Yes. The last government, tried it and see where it is now. Do not judge me by the way I dress, speak, company I keep, places I visit (pubs et al), time of the day (or night). Do not make it a basis to refuse to help me in distress. It is my right to freedom, provided by the Indian Constitution (Article 19 (1) (a) Right to freedom of speech and expression). It doesn’t help if you curb my movement either. Therefore, even before you think of coming with any brilliant ‘deadline for women’ ideas, I’d humbly request you to put them away. Actually, throw that thought out completely, burn it, if possible. Let’s understand that a deadline is NOT a solution you can provide to make me feel secure. (Remember, most stats point at violence at home – so) Try instead to 1. Light up – dark alleys and by-lanes. 2. Public transportation – provide better last mile connectivity. 3. Police patrolling – presence of the cops can keep trouble-makers at bay.

 

 

Wish #2: Gender Sensitisation Top cops in the past have pointed fingers at women, saying it is there fault crimes happen to them. Therefore, you really need to get the police task force ‘gender sensitised’. What would really make me feel secure and safe is that when I approach a cop on the road, he listens to me and acts on my complaint, instead of making me feel guilty of my choice of clothes, company I keep, location I choose or the time of the hour (repetition of wishlist #1). Moral policing by the police is NOT acceptable. Really. No-lip service, put a feedback mechanism in place, so when you do spend money and time into the sensitisation of the police force, you know that it was spent well. Encourage feedback from the people to access how well your policemen behave. When you get scathing feedback from us, work on it feedback. Don’t get angry and/or get preachy. Incentivise (monetarily) the good behaviour of the policemen. You will be surprised how far that can take you. Also, since I commute by the public transport that the government provides, I’d really appreciate if there is a helpline number in all the buses that: (a. functions; (b. functions even past 6pm (life goes on after sunset, you know).

Wish #3: Fix the ‘headlessness’ of the Karnataka State Commission for Women (KSCW): Your manifesto under the section Women Welfare, reads very vague. Here’s what it reads: ‘Undertake programmes in schools, colleges and industries for gender sensitisation and prevention of sexual harassment by involving NGO’s and voluntary organisations and giving them financial incentives.’ Without a preamble then. You do have an uphill task when it comes to providing a sense of security to the women in the state. Your immediate job responsibility should be to fill the vacant post of Karnataka Women’s Commission’s post, that has been vacant ever since C Manjula resigned to join politics early this year. A report in an English daily, pointed out that even the counselling sessions that are held every Tuesday and Friday have become less frequent. That is sad. The counselling sessions were helpful because the chairperson could give oral instruction to the police to help the women in distress. Once a chairperson is appointed, ensure that the KSCW’s website is re-vamped. Look at it yourself. You will not find anything of use to women in distress, apart from brochures that date back to 2012. Wake up it is Mid-2013. As a web-savvy woman I can tell you this, this website is offering me no help. It doesn’t even tell me what the KWC is all about. The ‘About’ page describes the commission in Kannada only, what about an urban population that cannot read Kannada? Is the Commission selective, in who it will help? Shouldn’t the website have information in Kannada and English. The team has a table with names and numbers. With C Manjula still listed as the chairperson of the commission. Think it is time to update that too.

Wish #4: Implement the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Law: This law is still in a nascent stage. It will be up to you to direct the concerned department to ensure it is followed. Maybe, a good starting point would be to ensure that all organisations have an in-house committee. Without these committees in place the law is of no use to women. Do, you think you will be able to get these in place along with your ‘gender sensitisation’ programs in schools, colleges and the workplace? Undersigned, A woman, who loves this city to bits.

Read more at: http://news.oneindia.in/feature/2013/wish-list-to-congress-from-a-city-woman-1212783.html?google_editors_picks=true

 

Bangalore’s xenophobic cops cross the limit #racism


 

Published: Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013, 5:25 IST
By MK Ashoka | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

When 26-year-old Parvez Azhar from Assam, who lives and works in Bangalore, went to Hulimavu police station Monday to file a complaint about losing his marks cards, little did he expect to be abused roundly by the station house officer. Parvez’s fault? Not being able to speak Kannada.

It was third visit of Parvz, an employee in a pharmaceutical company, to the police station to file the complaint about the loss of his final semester marks card of his BSc biotechnology from St John’s College. He lost the marks card while riding his bike to Arakere 10 days ago, and he realised about the loss much later. Since then he was made to go to the police station repeatedly, only to be told that he had get an affidavit detailing how he lost the marks sheets, in order to file the complaint. Parvez was at the station, armed with the affidavit.

“I was trying to tell station head Nagarajaiah that I have got the affidavit done. He did not even bother to look at the affidavit, asking me to bring a letter from the college. As I tried to explain that the college authorities have asked me to come with the FIR, Nagarajaiah asked me whether I knew Kannada,” Parvez told DNA.

Parvez told the cop that he could speak in Kannada a bit and and was learning the language. The policemen asked him for how long was living in Bangalore. The young man told seven years, and this got the policeman’s goat, who began loudly abusing him.

“After abusing me, Nagarajaiah asked me why I could not speak Kannada after staying here for so long, and why i had not tried. He went on to complain that people like me come here to ride their bike wherever wanted and do not even bother to learn Kannada,” Parvez said.

Refusing to entertain Parvez’s affidavit which they had suggested he get done, Nagarajaiah said he would regiser a complaint only if he brought a letter from college.

“Otherwise I could go back to his native in Assam and get and lodge a complaint there, Nagarajaiah told me,” recounts Parvez.

@ashimysore

#India – Crossing the Lakshman rekha- moral policing #Vaw


 

 

VIKHAR AHMED SAYEED – Recently in Mangalore, Outlook

 

 

The attack on a homestay in Mangalore clearly shows that Hindutva ideologues define the moral and cultural boundaries in coastal Karnataka.

 

 

 

BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT 

Naveen Soorinje, the journalist who was arrested in connection with the attack on a homestay, being taken to a court in Mangalore in November 2012. 

The visiting hours at the Mangalore Sub-Jail are between 11-30 a.m, and 1 p.m. Visitors of undertrials gather around the imposing jail gate ahead of time as a guard usually checks the contents of their stainless steel lunch boxes before they are allowed inside. Soon, the motley group of relatives, friends and the odd journalist is led to either of the two wards where undertrials are lodged. A double-grilled window separates the visitor from the undertrial. Within minutes of reaching the enclosure, there is a cacophony of voices as the visitors jostle to find a convenient spot.

As this reporter heads for the window, a dishevelled Naveen Soorinje saunters in on the other side of it. The 28-year-old journalist has lost some weight since his arrest but he is upbeat. As is evident from his name, Soorinje is not a Muslim, but is lodged in the Muslim ward. “If I were in the Hindu ward, I would have been killed. There are many people there whom I’ve exposed through my work,” he says with a smile.

Soorinje, a journalist with Kasturi News, a 24-hour Kannada news channel, was arrested on November 7, 2012 when he was named in a charge sheet filed by the Mangalore police following the incidents that took place at Morning Mist Homestay. On July 28, 2012, a mob of 25 to 30 activists of the Hindu Jagran Vedike (HJV) led by 34-year-old Subhash Padil barged into the homestay and beat up a group of young men and women gathered there for a birthday party.

Videos of the attack, which are available online, show that the girls are manhandled, their dresses are ripped and they are slapped hard by HJV activists. A young man is stripped of his shirt and dragged by his hair across the room and pounded by a group of attackers.

The videos, which were played on loop on local and national news channels for a couple of days, drew nationwide condemnation. The ugly scene the Hindu right-wing elements created was recorded by some local journalists.

There were two other journalists at the venue apart from Soorinje, Rajesh Srinivas of TV 9, a well-known Kannada news channel, and Sharan Raj of Sahaya TV, a local news channel reportedly close to the Hindu right-wing. According to Soorinje’s testimony, he received a tip-off about the raid and tried to contact the police as soon as he realised that an attack was under way. However, his presence had irked the police who, Soorinje said, wanted to teach him a lesson.

Subsequently, charges were filed against the attackers as well as Soorinje and Sharan Raj (it remains a mystery why charges were not filed against Srinivas). Raj is in the Hindu ward of the jail. Strangely, the attackers and the journalists were charged under the same sections of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) pertaining to rioting, criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly and outraging the modesty of a woman.

Subhash Padil is known to play the moral vigilante of the Hindutva forces in Mangalore city. He was one of the members of the group that attacked women in Amnesia Pub on January 24, 2009. He has had stints in the Bajrang Dal and the Sri Rama Sene.

“I have no remorse for what I did. Yes, I led the group that attacked the girls at the homestay but do you know what they were up to? They were drinking beer and you know what that leads to…,” Padil shouted from across the grilled window of the jail. He added: “How does a girl celebrate a birthday party? Do you go to a remote location with boys and drink beer? We don’t have any problem if you sit with your family and have a quiet dinner but going to parties and drinking and smoking…. Is that any way to celebrate a birthday? It is because of our actions that the girls at the homestay were saved from getting dishonoured. We have ensured that such immoral activities have come down in Mangalore.”

The attacks on Amnesia Pub and the home stay are just two of the many incidents that have taken place in the coastal Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka in the past few years.

It is clear from the fiery rhetoric of people like Padil that the moral and cultural boundaries in the area are defined by Hindutva ideologues and anyone who breaches that boundary is a target of their foot soldiers. Women especially should be very careful about stepping out of the confines of the cultural Hindu rashtra, and if a woman is “spoilt”, then the family is dishonoured. Getting “corrupted” by “modernity” and by befriending Muslim men (love jehad) is the easiest way in which Hindu women in Dakshina Kannada can overstep the Lakshman rekha drawn by the Sangh Parivar.


The police escort youth who were attacked by pro-Hindutva activists at a party at Padil on the outskirts of Mangalore in July 2012. 

Sample some of the incidents that have occurred in the recent past as reported in the local media:

On January 30, a fracas broke out between a mixed-sex group of young people who were smoking at Rock Cafe in Mangalore and members of the Bajrang Dal and the Durga Vahini. The police, who arrived with the Hindutva brigade, took the youngsters to the police station and summoned their parents. On December 19, 2012, a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl were assaulted by activists at the Shibaroor temple festival near Mangalore. On December 15, a four-member gang assaulted a Muslim boy who was speaking to a Hindu girl in Bajpe in Mangalore. On November 7, a couple of youngsters in Kundapur in Udupi district was targeted. It later turned out that they were siblings. On November 2, activists of a Hindutva group brought a young woman to the Puttur police station alleging that she was engaged in immoral activities with a boy from a different community.

In a report brought out by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties-Karnataka (PUCL-K) and the Forum Against Atrocities on Women, Mangalore (FAAWM) after the homestay attack, 300 major and minor moral policing events between 1998 and July 2012 in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts have been recorded.

Suresh Bhat Bakrabail of the Karnataka Communal Harmony Forum, who has catalogued every reported event of moral policing, said: “The situation for young people in Mangalore is extremely scary as the youth are not able to mix freely.”

Postgraduate students at the Mass Communication and Media Studies Centre of St. Aloysius College expressed their views in a discussion with this journalist. “We are careful not to go out of the campus with friends of the opposite sex. We usually meet in groups and ensure that we do not stay out late,” said a first-year male student who did not want to be named. A girl student added: “We are apprehensive and make sure that we do not attract attention when we go out.” All the students had minor incidents to report about how people they knew were warned about public behaviour by self-appointed moral guardians.

Distinct Culture

Separated from the hinterland by the Western Ghats, the coastal belt of Karnataka has developed its own distinct culture. Dakshina Kannada district was part of the Madras Presidency during the colonial years.

The two dominant castes of Karnataka, the Lingayats and the Vokkaligas, have a minuscule presence in the region. The Muslims living in the coastal district, known as Bearys, are distinct from their counterparts elsewhere in the State. There is a historic Catholic Christian presence along the coast. The numerically strong Hindu castes of the region include the Billavas, the Moggaveeras and the Bunts, while Brahmins also have a significant presence.

The dominant languages of the region are Tulu and Konkani although Kannada is spoken and understood widely. Interestingly, Dakshina Kannada has the highest literacy rate in Karnataka, marginally ahead of Bangalore.

 

When migration to countries around the Persian Gulf began in the late 1960s, the Bearys took advantage of the economic opportunities that unfolded, and the funds they repatriated caused a fundamental change in the caste-based economy of the region. Non-Muslim migrants to other parts of India also caused the coastal belt to be flush with funds. Mangalore’s communal polarisation started with the riots that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

Recognising the presence of important religious institutions and the changes in the economy, the Sangh Parivar constituents began to systematically work in the region from the 1980s, making it a Hindutva laboratory. Their efforts paid off when coastal Karnataka emerged as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral bastion in the 1990s.

Muslims, who constitute 22 per cent of the population in Dakshina Kannada, have also been influenced by the identity politics of Muslim groups from northern Kerala in the past decade, and there are reported incidents of Muslims doing counter moral policing. The area has emerged as a communal tinderbox with slow self-segregation among the communities as well. Distinct Hindu, Muslim and Christian residential areas are emerging.

The district was once known as the most progressive part of Karnataka, but Hindutva forces have overrun it now. Jagadish Shenava, an advocate and the district working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), articulates this aggression when he says: “We are very strong here and the situation has gone beyond normal. No Muslim boys and Hindu girls in the area can meet without causing a communal riot. Our next target is Manipal as it is the hub of illegal activities like pubbing.”

It is in this background that the role of the media needs to be examined. There are only a handful of Kannada newspapers such as Karavali Ale (Coastal Wave) and Vaartha Bharathi that are waging a relentless battle against the excesses of the Sangh Parivar. Employees of Karavali Ale were targeted recently after the newspaper published an article that linked a senior leader of the HJV with drug supply in the region.

The journalist community in the region, for the most part, has either been silent on or collaborated with the gradual communalisation of the region. Soorinje’s work has had an impact in the media. About his reportage of the homestay incident, he says: “The July 28 incident in Mangalore is not a stray incident. Such events occur here every week. If I had not shot the visuals, the police would not have accepted the fact that the assault had happened. This has been the case in many such incidents in the past.”

The journalist community in Bangalore rallied around Soorinje. Some journalists even went on a three-day hunger strike in January demanding his release. This forced the State Cabinet to withdraw all charges against Soorinje on January 31 but he continues to remain in jail. On February 6, a public interest petition was filed against the withdrawal of the cases against Soorinje, prolonging his incarceration.

Kannada actor Arjun arrested for harassing wife #VAW


 

 

BANGALORE: Kannada film actor Arjun was today arrested for allegedly harassing his wife both physically and mentally for the past several months, police said.

34 year-old Arjun, married to Latashri for the past 11 years and has two daughters, was arrested on a complaint from his wife, they said.

Arjun had been allegedly harassing his wife both physically and mentally for the past several months under the influence of alcohol and unable to bear his torture, she had been staying with her parents for the past three months.

Last night, Arjun came to his father-in-law’s house allegedly in a drunken state and had a quarrel with the security guard, verbally abusing him and also Latashri.

The actor was produced before a local court and has been remanded to judicial custody.

 

Bangalore Police arrest journalist, 10 others for suspected terror links


 

PTI, Aug 30/8/2012

In a major operation, Bangalore Police have arrested 11 persons with suspected links to terror outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and HuJI and claimed to have foiled their plot to target MPs, MLAs and mediapersons in Karnataka.

A foreign made 7.65 mm pistol, seven rounds of ammunition and other gadgets were seized from the arrested, City Police Commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirji told reporters along with DGP L.R. Pachau.

The arrested included a journalist of an English daily, police sources said.

Mr. Mirji said all the arrests were made by CCB police on Wednesday in Hubli in northern Karnataka and Bangalore after gathering intelligence inputs for several days.

He denied reports about involvement of Uttar Pradesh police in the operation.

“It was a meticolously planned operation by CCB. The arrested had links with banned outfits like LeT and HUJI,” Mr. Mirji said but refused to share further details remarking “in the interest of the security, case and investigations no more details can be shared at this stage“.

The arrested, all aged below 30, planned to target MPs, MLAs and prominent journalists, he said.

He said cases under IPC sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 307 (attempt to murder), 379 (theft) and under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Arms Act have been registered against the arrested.

Initial reports had said the four suspected Indian Mujahideen activists involved in the 2010 Chinnaswamy stadium blast case were picked up by police.

 

Solidarity statement from Bangalore with anti-eviction basti struggles in Mumbai and Kolkata


June 11, 2012
Dayanandnagar slum residents group , in s Bangalore send their solidarity  supportwith the basti dwellers fighting eviction in slums of Mumbai and Kolkata after seeing pictures and films of their struggles. We also know such struggles are happening everywhere, in our own city such as E.W.S quarters and in other cities besides Mumbai and Kolkata, and we are trying to reach out to learn more and join hands to fight together. When we saw the photos of struggle in Mumbai and Kolkata we felt we had to reach out by letter as these struggles are so far away. Attached is our statement in Kannada and below is a translation into English. In the English translation we added in brackets some points which were discussed after our letter was first drafted in Kannada at the meeting.

 

“We in the dalit and women’s group of Dayanandnagar slum, work on slum resident issues. With respect to these issues, we join hands with you in struggle against the violent oppression directed at you. In both the Koliwada, (Ambujwada) and Golibar struggles in Mumbai, and the Nonadanga struggle in Kolkatta, police violence and the eviction of people from their homes by government officials took place. We oppose the police violence and atrocities, (including the molestation and mishandling of women by male police officers while repressing protests), and the arrogance and oppression of the government officials. We support you, and are with you, hence this letter”

 

in solidarity,
Dayanandnagar slum residents:
Kavitha G
Shivani
Kaveri R.I.
Narasimha
Mani S
Kavitha
Asha
Govinda
Shakeela
Maala
G. Justin
Vasegi
Vanaja A.
P. Venkatesh
Rajeshwari R.

 

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