While the local police said the two leaders of a far-right Hindu group responsible for a Taliban-style, televised attack on a pub were at large, one of them answered his phone when Hindustan Times called him on Monday. BJP distances itself
“I do not have all the facts since I am travelling on business and have not been able to get in touch with our local unit,” said Prasad Attavar, state convener of the little-known Sri Ram Sene (Lord Ram’s army).
He denied any involvement in an attack that saw the public harassment and beating of college students in a pub in coastal Karnataka's cosmopolitan but increasingly divided city of Mangalore.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karntaka and the party’s central leadership distanced themselves from the Saturday night attack. Genesis of hatred
BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The culprits are neither from the BJP nor from the Sangh Parivar. They are from an autonomous organisation active in the area. We condemn this hooliganism.”
Karnataka Home Minister V.S. Acharya criticised senior Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily for “blowing it out of proportion and seeking to make it a big issue”.
“Just wait and watch how the local police act against the miscreants,” said Acharya.
The police arrested 17 Sene activists on Monday, including two key functionaries – vice-convenor of the Mangalore district, M.P. Kishore and city convenor Ganesh.
Sene activists had beaten and chased away women customers at Amnesia, a Mangalore pub, “for drinking and for violating Indian norms”.
Male customers who came to rescue of the victims were also beaten.
Obviously embarrassed by the nationwide furore over the incident, the state government ordered an immediate crackdown and put out a raft of denials.
“The act was condemnable and whoever is responsible should be booked and justice delivered,” said party president Rajnath Singh in Delhi, before leaving for Bangalore and Mysore where he was scheduled to address a rally.
Terming the incident “unfortunate”, Karnataka chief minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa said at the Republic Day function in Bangalore: “The police have been given a free hand to probe the incident. Nobody can take the law into their hands.”
“We are looking for Prasad Attavar and Dinakar Shetty (legal advisor to the Sene), and may arrest them tonight,” said Sateesh Kumar, superintendent of police, Mangalore.