A Muslim man was stripped, tied to a pole and flogged for more than an hour at a crowded marketplace in the communally polarised coastal town of Mangalore while he was trying to help a Hindu woman colleague who had sought a loan.
Policemen reached the spot after local cable television channels began beaming visuals of the man on Monday and arrested 14 of around 30 suspected Bajrang Dal activists 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.
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.
Muslim man stripped, beaten for talking to Hindu woman in Mangalore
The woman escaped without much harm but she too was slapped for trying to come to her colleague's defence.
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.