Passerby Pawan Shetty had gallantly sprung to the aid of women guests of the Amnesia lounge bar when goons of Sri Ram Sene attacked them on Saturday. Three days later, a bruised Shetty is having to change residence for he has received death threats.
This was all Tejaswi Raj, district president of the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India, could say about Shetty on Tuesday. Raj was the first to make contact with this key eyewitness and the women students who were assaulted.
Outraged by the violent attack by activists of the self-appointed moral police, a dozen women — including housewives and working professionals — are planning a mass campaign against the attack. And they are planning it in the most unlikely of places — a playschool.
“We could have been in that lounge with our husbands. This time this abominable act took place in our backyards. Next time they could be invading our homes. We are afraid but cannot let these people continue violating our fundamental rights,” said Shameem Kunil, an educationist. Kunil and her colleagues are determined to take the matter into their own hands on the
advice of Karnataka DGP R. Srikumar.
“We made the first arrest within 10 minutes of the attacks. Twenty-seven of the 30 men under investigation have been arrested and are to appear in court on grounds of criminal intimidation, criminal trespass, assault on women and rioting,” Srikumar said.
Unwilling to rely on the police, secular and politically aligned students’ union leaders have called for a citywide college strike on January 28. “All the staff and management of colleges have supported us, even those in the midst of exams. The girls who were attacked were from respected colleges and families and are now suffering mental trauma,” said Mithul Raik, chief coordinator of the Mangalore University All College Students Union.
In New Delhi, the National Commission for Women constituted a three-member committee headed by member Nirmala Venkaatesh to probe the attack. Chairperson Girija Vyas called for severe action against the culprits.
(Inputs from HTC, New Delhi)