Home Stay Attack - A Wake up Call for Mangalore
By Dr Suhael Ahmed
(Dr Suhael Ahmed is a dentist (maxillofacial surgeon) from Mangalore. He can be reached on email@example.com)
Mangalore, Aug 8: Somewhere in Delhi a husband calls his wife and says, ďOur daughter has got good ranking in the entrance exam and has a reputed college in Mangalore as an option for her medical studiesÖshall we go for it?Ē Wife replies - ďMangalore??? the same place where a pub was attacked a few years back and girls were beaten the other day in that resort?Ö.No way... Look for any option other than MangaloreÖ.Ē
It is but natural for parents to be scared to send their child for education to a place where they think he or she is not secure. With the kind of negative publicity Mangalore has been getting of late, one may not be surprised if less and less number of students enroll for education in colleges in Mangalore in the coming days.
Who is responsible for this? Is it the outfits who indulge in moral policing, is it the students or is it the system?
Well, a lot of debate has been going on about this over the last couple of weeks. Nobody still knows what prompted the attack. But we surely know that the young victims are traumatized by the incident and that the Mangaloreans are fuming over the happenings in the once calm and peaceful city barring few incidents of communal tension.
As for the Morning Mist Home stay attack, the reporter who was the first to reach the spot has gone on record to say that his friend overheard members of a hindu outfit speaking about few a Muslim students enjoying with some girls in a resort and that they needed to be taught a lesson. But we donít know how far his statement is true as we are only hearing one side of the story.
Some others believe, the same reporter had colluded with attackers just to make some money out of selling the video, which he thought would turn out to be a sensational one and which eventually did turn out to be one. This angle cannot be completely disregarded considering the fact that the cameras were focusing the girls from top to bottom, as to show that girls were scantily dressed and never focused on the attackers. Also the reporter did not call the police control room and only attempted to reach a police officer on his mobile,who he says did not receive his call. Did the reporter actually call the officer, or did he just give a missed call to later go on record that he had indeed called the officer. We donít know.
There are a few others who believe that the Hindu Janajagrana vedike headed by Jagadish Karanth, who initially claimed responsibility for the attack, wanted overnight fame just as the fame garnered by Sri Rama sene following the infamous Pub attack in Mangalore a few years back..
Also there are rumours that it may be a case of extortion,and since the Home stay owner did not meet the monetary demands of the extortion gang they decided to disrupt the home stay business with this attack.
There are also very few people who say that the attack was needed as a wake up call to discourage students from partying and dressing scantily.
We all have seen what happened that evening in the Home stay and since the video was completely edited, we are left to imagine what all has happened that day. The Incident stopped just short of rape. There was trespassing, physical attack, loot and molestation.
Now what could be the repercussions of this incident? Due to heavy public pressure, the culprits might languish in jail for a longer time than they thought they would. The girls who were targeted in the attack would take some time to get back to their studies, although their mental bruises would stay with them for the rest of their lives. It would not be easy for them to take the fight forward and lodge complaint unless there is complete and constant support from all quarters be it their family, their friends and/or the society.
The boys who were attacked have vowed to fight for their honour as there were allegations against them and also their families. How far will they succeed, only time will tell.
The homestay owners could be busy receiving and replying to notices from various government offices until they are fed up and decide to shut down the home stay for good.
But after this incident, Mangalore cityís image has certainly taken a beating. If this continues, soon parents from distant places be it north India or Kerala, would fear sending their children to Mangalore for studies. For any parent, security of their child would be of prime concern. Also the students in Mangalore have contributed to the business in Mangalore by their increasing numbers. Mangalore which is seen as a tourist destination of the future could be reduced to a destination of least preference.
What needs to be done to prevent such attacks in future? Police department cannot be blamed entirely for such attacks. Police cannot be omnipresent. It takes some time until someone calls the police and the team reaches the venue. Before they reach the spot, the damage could have been done. Even the criminals do their homework about dodging the police. They too know that eventually they are going to be arrested and are well prepared for it. After all jails are only second homes for such hooligans.
If there is something that can be changed, It is the mindset which has to be changed. Few Citizens of Padil seem to be happy that the attack took place as they were made to believe that something illegal was always going on at the home stay and one would not be surprised if they welcome the culprits with garlands on their release from jail. These very citizens should be educated about the ill effects of such unprovoked attacks on the society.
Education plays an important role in grooming youngsters. Students should be taught to respect women right from their school days. Our institutions should discourage students from joining any communal outfit during their college days, be it a Hindu or a Muslim organization. Banning the organizations is no solution. Religious organizations need to act responsibly and work more towards promoting brotherhood in society rather than spreading hatred. Law should be amended; Organizations who own such attacks should be later made to compensate the victims and the damage caused to property. molestation should be made a non bailable offence (presently it is bailable). Mangalore is a not a huge city. If the police department wishes there can be a police outpost in every junction of the city with 2 police personnel always present in the outpost with bikes just to instill confidence in public. Most importantly, the media has to be unbiased which most of the present media houses in Mangalore undoubtedly are. Although heinous crimes take place every other day in our neighbourhood, not everyone talks about it. Incidents like this one and pub attack are discussed and debated so much, just because everyone feels they have witnessed it from their bedrooms through a television and the visuals leave a scar on everyones mind, be it young or old.
Let us hope that this was the last such incident in Mangalore and the various organizations would start using their resources in building a peaceful Mangalore. The Mangalore we once knew and were proud of.