A group of goons in Mangaluru attacked three people traveling in a car from Surathkal to Mangaluru on Monday evening. The car was being driven by Thomas D’Souza, a driving instructor, and his wife Mallika D’Souza was sitting in the front passenger seat. Their friend Tousheera was sitting in the back, clad in a burkha. The goons – a group of Muslim men according to the police – stopped their car, broke the windshields and windows, beat up Thomas, and tried to drag Tousheera out.
The incident occurred around 5:30 pm on Monday evening when the trio was traveling back to Mangaluru from Thadambail in Surathkal. The group of Muslim youth on scooters stopped the vehicle near Kanachur Institute of Medical Sciences in the city. Two men from the group then proceeded to assault Thomas, attacking him on the head, face and hands.
"Two people tried to grab the woman in the back but after they could not pull her out, they hit the car. They eventually left after the window of the car was shattered," said Mallika, speaking after the incident.
Thomas, who is a driving school instructor by profession, sustained injuries in the incident. He later filed a complaint at the Konaje Police Station. Police officials have registered an FIR under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 341 (wrongful restraint), 427 (mischief causing damage), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence). Police are taking statements from witnesses to zero in on the attackers.
Mangaluru has previously been in the news for cases of moral policing from groups of Hindus and Muslims. "These kinds of attacks happen in both Hindu and Muslim communities. It is more prevalent among Hindu groups as we have seen in the past but is a problem that plagues both Hindu and Muslim communities. It should be condemned whenever they happen irrespective of the faiths involved," State President of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) Muneer Katipalla told TNM.
In the past men and women from different communities have been attacked for spending time with each other. The number of such instances rose sharply in the lead up to the state Assembly elections in Karnataka in 2018 and appear to have resurfaced once again.