Karnataka Police have arrested one and are hunting for other "moral cops" who thrashed three college boys after finding them travelling with two women in the coastal district of Dakshina Kannada.
"We're on the hunt to nab all those who thrashed the boys," police officer A Subramanyeshwara Rao told IANS on phone from Mangalore.
He added that one of the attackers, 25-year-old Ashok, had been arrested for Tuesday's incident. Mangalore is around 350 km from here.
Rao said the boys were beaten because the attackers thought they were Muslims and were talking to Hindu women. The incident led to clashes late Tuesday in Puttur, about 40 km from district headquarters Mangalore.
Police declined to say whether the attackers belonged to any of the groups active in the region to protect their verson of traditional Hindu values.
Trouble started when the attackers stopped the bus on its way from Puttur to Mangalore and inquired about five passengers. The three boys were thrashed by the group.
Police said the five belonged to a private college in Mangalore and the two women were teachers there. The five had gone to Puttur on a study tour. One of the five was a Christian and two were Hindus.
As the news about the attack spread, people from the minority community rushed to the Puttur police station, demanding action against the attackers. An altercation led to clashes between two groups. Police baton charged the people to end the clashes.
Tuesday's incident is the seventh of its kind in the district since November last year.
On Jan 24, a group of activists from Hindu group Sri Rama Sene attacked a few women for having gone to a pub in Mangalore.
A few days later, a 15-year-old girl from a place near Mangalore committed suicide after being humiliated, allegedly by members of a Hindu group.