Five arrested for attack on Kerala legislator’s daughter (Roundup)

February 8th, 2009 - 11:36 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyBangalore, Feb 7 (IANS) Five people were arrested Saturday for the attack on a Kerala legislator’s daughter and her classmate’s brother, a Muslim boy, in Mangalore town Friday evening, the Karnataka police said.
Two of the five arrested are from Kerala’s Kasargod district to which the legislator, C.H. Kunhambu, belongs.

The others are the driver and conductor of the bus in which Kunhambu’s daughter Shruti and the boy, Shabib, were travelling when they were attacked. The fifth is a youth from Mangalore, Dakshina Kannada district police superintendent N. Sateesh Kumar said.

Kasargod district borders Dakshina Kannada, of which Mangalore is the district headquarters. Mangalore is about 350 kms from Bangalore.

The arrests came as Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa promised strict action against the guilty.

“I have instructed the police to take strict action. Nobody should and will be allowed to take law into their hands,” Yeddyurappa said in Nagpur in Maharashtra, where he was attending the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national executive meeting.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan also wrote to Yeddyurappa, protesting the harassment faced by Shruti and Shabib, and demanding necessary steps.

Shruti, a Class 12 student of St. Aloysius College, and Shabib, brother of a classmate of hers, were on their way to Mangalore from Kasargod when a group of men dragged them out of the bus. They were taken away in an autorickshaw and released after a few hours after being beaten.

Kunhambu, a legislator of Kerala’s ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), blamed the Bajrang Dal and Sri Rama Sene for the incident but both groups have denied involvement.

Incidents of rightwing Hindu groups taking objection to Hindu girls talking to Muslim youth and in some cases assaulting the youth have become frequent in Mangalore.

Friday’s incident comes two weeks after Sri Rama Sene activists bashed up women in Mangalore because the women had gone to a pub.

Yeddyurappa, the first BJP chief minister of Karnataka, told reporters in Nagpur that “such incidents are intentional and are meant to tarnish the image of my party and government”.

In New Delhi, the central government’s Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury said: “There is a complete breakdown of the law and order situation in Karnataka. I think we should look at it as a national security problem.”

Describing the Mangalore incidents as fascist, the minister said: “Democracy doesn’t tolerate this fascism. But we are concerned about the fascism supported by the state government.”

Charging that “Talibanisation” was happening in the BJP-ruled state, she said: “The state government is not in control of the law and order situation. A Hindu girl is not allowed to speak to a Muslim boy. It is a very dangerous trend. They are sowing a communal divide.”

If the state government failed to control the situation, “we have various instruments of democracy that we can use and implement as an when the situation arises”, Chowdhury said.

She added: “I am fully expecting incidents to take place (on Valentine’s Day Feb 14). I have no confidence in the state government today. I’m watching the situation. I will write to the chief minister.”

Terming Sri Rama Sene activists as anti-social elements and goons, she said: “I am asking a simple question… What is Sri Rama Sene? How are they empowered to make a decision that they can attack couples or women or community or religion on the streets? Who has empowered this people? Who are their funding agencies? What is the real face this men? They are coming out of the jail and on bail and are advertising, they are putting up posters, issuing threat warnings. Does the state government need spoon-feeding to do what they have to do?”

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