Contradictory versions shroud school girl’s suicide near Mangalore

February 12th, 2009 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyBangalore, Feb 12 (IANS) Controversy surrounds the alleged suicide of a 16-year-old school girl in Mangalore Wednesday. Did she kill herself after being allegedly raped by a Muslim man she knew, as per the police version, or did she take the extreme step because she was humiliated by members of a rightwing Hindu group for moving around with two Muslim men?
The girl committed suicide near Moodabidri, around 40 km from Mangalore, Wednesday. Police have arrested Saleem, 26, on charges of rape and abetment to suicide.

A Mangalore police spokesperson said on phone that according to the parents of the girl, she had told them that she was raped by Saleem on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning when her mother was out to deliver the beedis she rolls and her father, a tempo driver, also was outside the house, she hanged herself, the spokesperson said.

Asked about reports that she had been humiliated by a group of people that led her to commit suicide, the spokesperson only said: “The public saw this girl and her friend with Saleem and his friend. Since the girl was in school uniform, they got suspicious why she was not in school and informed the Moodabidri police.

“The four were let off after questioning but now Saleem has been arrested and charged with rape and abetment to suicide following a complaint by the girl’s father,” he said.

Incidents of Hindu youth taking objection to girls from the community talking or moving around with Muslims in Dakshina Kannada district, of which Mangalore and Moodabidri are parts, have become common in recent years. There have also been frequent clashes between Hindu and Muslim youths over this issue.

On Jan 24, several women in a Mangalore pub were beaten up by members of the Sri Rama Sene, a rightwing Hindu group. The girls have not filed any complaint but 28 Sene activists including their president Pramod Muthalik were arrested for the attack and are now out on bail.

The Mangalore attack has resulted in a clash between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka and union Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury.

Chowdhury has termed the Mangalore incident as “Talibanisation” and extended her support for a ‘Pub Bharo’ (fill the pubs) agitation on Valentine’s Day Saturday.

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurapa has hit back saying she is making ‘irresponsible’ statements. He has also written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to restrain Chowdhury.

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