Karnataka CM Bommai’s remark on moral policing triggers row
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday stoked a controversy with his statements that appeared to justify incidents of moral policing and communal disharmony in the state.
“There are several sentiments in the society. Those emotions should not be affected and such should be the behaviour. When such emotions are hurt there is likely to be an action and reaction,” Bommai told reporters in Mangaluru, about 350 km from Bengaluru.
Besides policing, Bommai said, the government’s duty is also about taking action to maintain harmony in society.
“Even youngsters should watch their actions to ensure it does not hurt sentiments of the society,” he said, adding that there should be “morality in the society and we cannot live without it”.
Reacting to the CM’s remark, a statement endorsed by 35 human rights activists and organisations stated that the justification of moral policing and communal violence by the chief minister sends out a “dangerous message”.
“This statement has been made at a time when instances of communal policing have increased in the Karnataka, which has in fact witnessed the killing of persons for the simple act of loving across caste and religion,” said the statement released on Wednesday.
“Your statement that social morality is (to) be protected is not an innocent message. It sends out a dangerous message that as far as you are concerned, it is ok to use violence to enforce what some people see as ‘morality’,” the statement added.
Activists also said such acts of violence affect the dignity of the youth and instill fear in them. “It condemns minorities and Dalits to lead the life of second class citizens. It also conveys the message that women have no right in choosing their partners. It is an attack on all women in fact. It also fills the minds of many youth among majority community with hate,” the statement added.
The CM’s statement comes at a time when Karnataka has been witnessing a surge in cases of moral policing allegedly by individuals associated with right-wing outfits.
On Tuesday, police in Bagalkote district arrested eight people after a fight between two Class IXth students took communal colour after members of both Hindu and Muslim groups attacked each other.
According to the police, both students are from the same locality. There were allegations that one of the students objected to the other wearing a skull cap, however, police said they are yet to ascertain what led to the fight.
On September 28, decapitated body of a 24-year-old Muslim man, Arbaz Mullah, was found on a railway track in Belagavi district. On October 8, police arrested 10 people, including the parents of a woman he was in a relationship with, for his murder.
The Belagavi police said the woman’s parents, Eerappa and Susheela Kumbhar, and Maharaja Nagappa alias Pundalik Mutgekar, a member of Hindu group Sri Ram Sena Hindustan, are the prime suspects in the murder.
On Monday, HT reported two separate cases of moral policing in Dakshina Kannada and Shivamogga districts.
In the Dakshina Kannada incident, police said two persons belonging to a right-wing group waylaid a car with four occupants, including a Muslim couple and two Hindu girls, and objected to them travelling together.
In Shivamogga district, two youngsters were detained in a case of moral policing after they allegedly assaulted a Hindu youth for dropping off a Muslim girl on his two-wheeler.