On Tuesday, the Karnataka police arrested Pramod Muthalik, the founder-leader of Sri Ram Sene, which attacked women in a pub in Mangalore on Saturday.
One of the victims of the attack told a TV news channel that it went beyond slaps and kicks. “Few of us had pants pulled down, skirts pulled down. We were molested more than attacked,” she said.
Muthalik was, however, nabbed in the border city of Belgaum for a different offence — causing communal disharmony in Davanagere.
He had made an inflammatory speech there on January 12. Confirming the arrest, Sonia Narang, superintendent of police, Belgaum, said: “We will hand him over to the police in Davanagere because there is a case against him for creating communal disharmony (there).”
Asked whether he would be charged for the attack on Amnesia, the Mangalore pub, Narang said: “We will decide that afterwards. Now, he will be taken to Davanagere for trial.”
Minutes before his arrest, Muthalik addressed a press conference in Belgaum. “If anyone violates our culture and traditions, we will not hesitate to protest,” he said.
Soon after, he told Hindustan Times over the phone, “My boys (members of Sri Ram Sene) may have gone overboard, but whatever they did was to protect the culture of this country’s women. Their methods this time may be an issue of debate, but I can tell you that the boys were sincere in their intention of protecting the culture.”
He said the “heckling of girls was an unfortunate part of the entire episode and we condemn it”.
Earlier, Prasad Attavar, the state convener of Sri Ram Sene was arrested for the attack on Amnesia. With this, and the arrest of nine others, the total number of arrests has risen to 27. However, Dinakar Shetty, the legal advisor of the Sene, who spoke in support of the attack, remains at large.
In Bangalore, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa vowed “strong action” against those who indulged in “unpardonable crime”, but evaded questions on banning the Sene.
BJP president Rajnath Singh, who was in Bangalore, said: “I am satisfied to note that the Karnataka government has already initiated strong action against the unacceptable act of hooliganism that took place in Mangalore.”
The National Commission of Women has taken suo moto note of the incident and set up a committee to report on the matter.