Bajrang Dal members disrupted a party organised by a group of college students at a pub in Mangaluru late on Monday, saying it violates Indian culture. The same venue was attacked by the Sri Rama Sene in January 2009 when it was run under a different name. While it is not yet clear if there was any physical violence in Monday's incident, the 2009 pub attack created headlines after videos surfaced showing Sri Rama Sene activists brutally assaulting and molesting women revellers.
In Monday's vigilante attack, Bajrang Dal members arrived at the 'Recycle, The Lounge' pub around 8 pm, sources said, after they were tipped off about a farewell party held by students of St. Aloysius College. The Hindutva activists arrived at the pub and asked the partying students to leave immediately and hurled abuses at them, an eyewitness told TNM.
Videos of the incident were shared on social media and one video showed Bajrang Dal members heckling the students as they rushed out of the pub. "Bevarsi, party malpera? (Drunkards, you want to party!)," one of the members was heard shouting at women as they hurriedly left.
This attack is being touted as a response to a viral video which emerged last week showing two youngsters kissing inside a private apartment while their friends cheered. "Last week, a video of students from St. Aloysius college doing a 'lip lock' challenge went viral. Now, the students of the same college had a party. (Bajrang Dal) members informed the (police) department and the party was stopped," Sharan Pumpwell, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) secretary in Mangaluru said. Pumpwell was one of the state's top Bajrang Dal leaders in his youth and still plays the role of a senior mentor.
Although there are videos of the incident clearly showing the intrusion by the Bajrang Dal, the police had an entirely different take on things and claimed that they broke up the fracas. They said that when they had reached the pub, it was shutting down and the students were already outside. They then dispersed the Bajrang Dal members and the students from the area, police sources said.
"At around 8 pm yesterday, in a pub called Recycle in North police station limits near Balmatta area, there was an incident wherein some media persons were informed by some persons claiming to be belonging to some organisations that in Recycle pub, some illegal activities are taking place and it will have to be stopped," Mangaluru Police Commissioner Shashi Kumar said in a statement.
"Police have also got the information about this and have visited the spot. By then the pub was closing and about 20 boys and 10 girls were also leaving the pub. Some videos have surfaced where some boys and girls are leaving the pub and some men are standing in the parking area," the police commissioner's statement added. Raghavendra M, the police inspector of Mangaluru North police station declined to comment on the incident. Police investigation is underway though no action has been taken yet over the incident.
The incident comes days after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad issued a statement alleging students in a reputed college in Mangaluru were running a 'drugs and sex mafia'. A poster with the same message was circulated widely online on July 22.
Last week, a group of students from St Aloysius college were booked under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act after a video surfaced on social media showing two youngsters kissing inside a private apartment while their friends cheered. According to the police, the video is from six months ago and the students were playing a game of 'truth or dare'. A video of the incident was shared on social media last week.
The disruption at Recycle, The Lounge on Monday night was reminiscent of the 2009 pub attack in Mangaluru in which Sri Rama Sene members barged into a pub called Amnesia in Mangaluru and began assaulting the women inside. Recycle pub is located where the Amnesia pub previously was in the Balmatta area of the city.
The men could clearly be seen slapping the women inside, dragging them out by their hair and brutally assaulting them in broad daylight.
The attack was caught on camera and beamed to millions of televisions across India, shocking the country. Yet, nine years after the attack, Sri Rama Sene founder Pramod Muthalik and 30 others accused in the case were acquitted by a Mangaluru court due to lack of evidence.