As Mangaluru gears up to ring in the new year, a citizens' forum has urged the police to clear the atmosphere of fear created by pro-Hindu groups in the city.
Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development (CFFMD) submitted a memorandum to Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy drawing attention to ‘increase in right-wing immoral policing’ in Dakshina Kannada.
Condemning the police’s decision to entertain a petition filed by the Bajrang Dal seeking restrictions on parties in Mangaluru, the citizens' group said that the 12 am deadline for parties ‘made a mockery of New Year celebrations’.
“Mangaluru City Police has specified 12 midnight as the deadline for concluding any public New Year events. This makes a mockery of the citizens as this very moment (12 midnight) marks the onset of the New Year. On the other hand, we learnt from news reports that the Bengaluru Police is allowing a 2 am deadline. There is no reason for the Mangaluru City Police to discriminate against its citizens other than their own incompetence or reluctance in dealing with goons belonging to right-wing outfits,” states the memorandum.
Following a petition filed by the Bajrang Dal seeking restrictions on parties, the Mangaluru Police issued a notice to restaurants, clubs and bars hosting New Year’s parties on December 31, asking them to close at midnight.
The press release issued by the police states that “in the name of cultural events, obscene dances, including naked and semi-naked dances, will not be allowed”.
This decision to curb New Year celebrations in Mangaluru has not gone down well with citizen groups. “They have also made no efforts to curb their (the pro-Hindu groups) activities, secure bonds from those issuing threats/known offenders or to place potential trouble makers under preventive custody,” reads the statement.
The memorandum also pointed out that the police’s decision has left organisers in a limbo for people are scared to attend New Year parties. Citizens fear right-wing groups may try to disrupt celebrations, especially after a Facebook post by a right-wing sympathiser went viral asking the police to bring the deadline forward to 11 pm.
“We had a discussion with the Commissioner and raised the issue of police prohibiting ‘indecent’ dancing. They promised to look into the matter and take people into preventive custody if necessary,” said Vidya Dinker, a member of CFFMD.