Congress spokesperson Lavanya Ballal is not immune to threats on social media but on September 30, a caller on a TV panel that she was on, threatened to hit her if she talked in public. The caller also dared her to send her daughter in public. The panel was discussing an incident of moral policing in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka and Lavanya Ballal had questioned right wing activists who were arrested and later released for harassing a group of medical students returning from Malpe beach on September 26.
"You can talk sitting in an AC car but come and talk in public and we will hit you also. I dare you to send your daughter in public," the caller said even as the anchor and even the Bajrang Dal representative Pradeep Saripalla called for action to be taken against the caller.
According to Lavanya, the abuse and threats began on September 26 following a social media post where she spoke in the Tulu language discussing the same incident.
ತುಳುನಾಡಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಭಜರಂಗದಳದ ಅಟ್ಟಹಾಸPosted by Lavanya on Tuesday, September 28, 2021
She was referring to the September 26 incident in Suratkal where the five accused stopped six medical students returning from Malpe beach in Udupi and asked why they were travelling in the presence of a Muslim. The accused manhandled the students before Sharif, a traffic inspector who was at the spot defused the situation.
Speaking to TNM, Lavanya said that she won't stop asking questions about instances of moral policing in coastal Karnataka. "The Bajrang Dal is misusing our youngsters for their political agenda. Nobody has the right to discipline kids other than parents. If parents think anything wrong is happening they can inform the police and under the Constitution, there is no provision for anyone other than the police to take action. Under what Constitutional provision are the accused taking action against the inter-faith students?" she said.
Congress leader and Jayanagar MLA Sowmya Reddy spoke out against the threats against her colleague Lavanya. "This is just pathetic. In broad daylight a woman is threatened and no action is still taken. Assault and death threats on a public discussion @CMofKarnataka @BSBommai @DgpKarnataka. Can we expect quick action against this guy and such blatant threats against women to stop?" she said in a tweet.
This is not the first time women political leaders in Karnataka have been slandered or targeted. The threats against Lavanya come days after comments by a former BJP MLA Sanjay Patil who claimed that Belagavi Rural MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar became an MLA through 'night culture'.
In July, former Chief Minister and JD(S) HD Kumaraswamy too made personal remarks against independent MP Sumalatha Ambareesh when discussing the Krishnarajasagara dam issue. He made a suggestion that Sumalatha should sleep at the gates of the dam in response to her claims that the dam was leaking.
Data recorded by the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) shows that there have been more than 60 communal incidents in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada district this year.