Two persons were injured after a case of moral policing escalated into one of assault in Karnataka’s Mandya district.
On Monday morning, 19-year-old Sumanth and his 17-year-old girlfriend were travelling from Sheelanare to KR Pete in a Karnataka State Road Transport bus. Sumanth had brought a cake into the bus and had cut it as it was his girlfriend’s birthday. It was then that bus conductor Dharme Gowda intervened, allegedly questioning the couple for hugging each other.
“According to the bus conductor’s Dharme Gowda’s statement, Sumanth and his girlfriend had hugged each other. Dharme Gowda has gone up to the students and questioned them. He has asked them who they were and if their parents knew what they were up to. He also told them to stop hugging in the bus,” an officer at the KR Pete Town Police Station said.
Angered by this, Sumanth allegedly had an argument with Dharme Gowda and got off the bus at KR Pete. The incident, however, did not end there.
Sumanth along with six of his friends – Vinay, Ravi Kiran, Manu, Uppi, KC Manju and Rajesh – stopped the same bus at Beladakere village at around 4.30 pm on Monday.
“The students stopped the bus and began arguing with the conductor, stating that he has no business interfering in their personal lives,” the officer added.
Things got out of control as the students and Dharme Gowda hurled abuses at each other. The students then allegedly pushed Dharme Gowda to the floor, kicking and thrashing him. Residents belonging to a village nearby, who overheard the commotion, intervened and attempted to break up the fight. However, things got out of hand, with residents then allegedly assaulting the students.
“When the bus driver Sandhaghatta Kumar came to Dharme Gowda’s rescue, the students also assaulted the driver. Since the bus had stopped on the main road, we had heard the commotion. We then intervened and broke up the fight. A large number of residents had gathered at the spot and up on hearing what the students were up to, they thrashed them for resorting to violence,” said Lokesh, an eyewitness and resident of Beladakere.
While five of the seven students escaped, the residents handed over KC Manju and Rajesh to the KR Pete Town Police. The residents then took Dharme Gowda and Kumar to the KR Pete Government Hospital, where they are undergoing treatment.
The police have registered an FIR against the seven students under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to public servant) of the IPC.
The police, however, have not registered an FIR against the residents of the village who, allegedly assaulted the students. When asked, the KR Pete Town Police said that the students had not filed a complaint in this regard.