A Hindu woman, who was slapped at a crowded marketplace in communally polarised Mangalore for being with a Muslim man, accused him of 'outraging her modesty' on Tuesday, in a new twist to the case. The woman was seen in a video desperately trying to help her companion who was also assaulted by a mob comprising suspected Bajrang Dal activists.
The complaint -- under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code -- was registered late on Monday, and it came to light on Tuesday when she addressed a press conference with a Bajrang Dal leader in the coastal Karnataka town.
"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 widely reported about the incident.
The man was stripped, tied to a pole and flogged for more than an hour after being spotted with the woman, who had reportedly sought a loan.
According to the man's complaint to police, the woman had asked him for a loan of Rs 2,000. They were on their way to an ATM so that he could withdraw cash when a gang of men armed with knives and staves accosted them, the man said.
Policemen reached the spot after local cable television channels began beaming visuals of the man on Monday and arrested 14 of around 30 people who were taking turns to flog him. The man is the manager of an accessories store in Mangalore and the woman works in the same store as a salesgirl.
At her press conference on Tuesday, the woman did not speak when she was asked why she tried to help her companion. She also did not explain why she was slapped and abused by the mob.
Several brazen attacks involving groups such as the Bajrang Dal, Sri Rama Sene, Hindu Jagarana Vedike and the Islamist group, Popular Front of India, have been reported in the coastal towns of Mangalore, Udupi, Honnavar, Bhatkal and Karwar over the past decade.
Civil society activists blamed the BJP government that was in power in Karnataka from 2008 to 2013 for encouraging Hindutva groups to commit such crimes. However, statistics show the attacks did not reduce even after the Congress came to power.