History Repeats. But With Some Difference…

July 29, 2012 at 9:15 AMJul (Activism, Media, Musings, Soliloquy)

History repeats, they say.

From the moment the news channels started telecasting the news of the attack in Padil, Mangalore on 28 July 2012 the memories of the infamous 2009 Mangalore pub attack (24 Jan) was invoked.

A few youngsters were partying at a resort in Padil, Mangalore and 50 members of the vigilante group Hindu Jagarana Vedike have attacked the boys and girls at the private party. The girls were manhandled assaulted and so were the boys.

The private party was called “rave party” by the media and was believed to be one by the vigilante group for which the private party was attacked. The problem the vigilante group had with ‘rave party’ was not legal but cultural, which is an insight to the fact that these groups are not concerned about law. In 2009 the attack on women in a pub in Mangalore was also for “cultural” reasons. In both cases law was taken into hand by the vigilante group and law was broken.

There are more similarities between the two incidents that have occurred in a gap of three and a half years.

Like always, in Mangalore, the attackers have claimed, proudly, that the members of their group have attacked. (On Sunday they have also protested the arrest of their group members). Like always, questions have been raised about the victim to justify the acts of violence.

History repeats. Yes. But with some difference.

In the 2009 incident the camera persons from various channel had assembled at the to-be attacked pub even before all of the attackers arrived! The camera persons called “action” only after which the pub was attacked! The police were not informed! In the 2012 incident the media did make calls to the police as and when they walked with the assailants into the resort. The police did not receive the call and finally when the assault was reported, cases were booked on the reporters! The inefficiancy of the police makes them target the reporter. (an interview of the reporter Naveen Soorinje can be found here and his account of the incident can be found here)

The 2009 attack made national news within no time. The 2012 one also did. But the 2009 images were censored the faces blurred. The images aired by Public TV and Suvarna (may be others too) were not even censored. The faces not blurred.

Discussions were held in almost all the Kannada channels. There were arguments in support of the attack and there were arguments condemning the attack too. The argument of those condemning the attack would be like, “Yes they shouldn’t be partying like that, they shouldn’t be dressing like that, they shouldn’t be drinking like that… but you see attacking them in this manner is not right….”

These arguments were disturbing because they, heart in heart, seem to hold the view that drinking is “not good”, wearing clothes of choice is “not good”, partying is “not good” and moreover gives the authority of individuals to their family while saying, “Who are these people to teach them a lesson? Only their families have that right…”- which goes on to accept that these boys and girls deserve to be taught a “lesson” but by a different teacher. But yeah they deserve to learn a lesson because they are wrong!

When the pub was attacked in 2009 in Mangalore there were arguments which asked, “What is wrong if the girls drink and dance?” Sadly in 2012 even those condemn the attacks seem to have subscribed to some of the basic arguments of the vigilante groups that certain things are going wrong and that needs to be mended. While the vigilante groups take it on themselves to become the teachers the ones condemning the attack seem to make the family members the teachers while accepting that a lesson is to be taught.

In the 2009 incident there was one brave Pavan who fought the vigilante groups, all alone, though with less success. But in 2012 there was no one like Pavan.

In 2009 there were mute spectators for the violence. In 2012 after the attack when the police arrived, the common men and women of Padil staged protest against the victims and not against the attackers or the attack. If being a silent spectator is also considered as being party to the acts of violence here in Padil the most common men and women extended their support openly to the attack and also welcomed it openly, not in silence being mute spectators. They also were crying the slogan, “Bolo bharath maata ki… JAI.”

Saffronization and Talibanization of the collective consciousness. Legitimization of violence.

A closer look at the video makes us realize that one of the difference between the 2009 incident and the 2012 incident is that the earlier was more of an attack while the latter one more of a sexual assault. While in 2009 the attack was in the name of “culture” and the justification was in the lines of “we acted like elder brothers by slapping them when they were slipping.” In 2012 the elder brother has vanished and fascism doesn’t require wearing the mask of a brother and even sexual assault is accepted, in the name of “culture.”

The way in which the girls were manhandled in Padil makes us think if the goons were doing what they were doing f just for some “sexual thrills,” and some “violent thrill,” in the name of culture! It makes us doubt if these men are grounded even in the periphery of any ideology. It appears like the devil has resided independent of fascist ideology in the subconscious and unconscious. But one can never ignore the fact that the devil was planted by fascism. In 2009 the members of vigilante group held a mass prayer before attacking the women in the pub. In 2012 there was no mass prayer as such. The violent mentality is independent now. It requires no support of ideology. The mentality which once held the little finger of fascist ideology now seems to have learnt to walk on its leg by itself.

The orange (read saffron) color of the sky has turned black while the sun has drowned in the coast of Mangalore. Darkness has settled on Mangalore.

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2 Comments

  1. Eugene Lobo said,

    It is not the first time that hypocrites have taken over this beautiful town of Karnataka-Mangalore. In the name of moral policing ; if they felt that they were doing wrong they should have just driven them away,but they tore the clothes of the young women which makes it a serious crime.The attackers have broken the law for their own cheap perverted thrills. I would like to ask the law keepers that,is this what empowering of women means? Oh I am sorry, are the law makers in the law less land still sleeping?

  2. Tharakeshwar V.B. said,

    This is not an isolated incidence, there are several such incidences of this kind not only in mangalore but also in other places. What it points out to is the fact that there is a deeper malady that is pervading our society. You can call it “talibanization”, “hinduization”, or “revivalism of patriarchy/castist feudal forces”, but it needs further investigation as it is becoming part of our commonsense. The role of electronic media in this process is an other alarming factor too.

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