NCW, ministry reject member’s report on Mangalore pub attack (Roundup)

February 6th, 2009 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) A day after issuing a show cause notice to National Commission for Women (NCW) member Nirmala Venkatesh for “dereliction of duty” over her report on the Mangalore pub attack on young women, the women and child development ministry and the NCW Friday rejected her account even as a defiant Venkatesh said she stood by it.A two-member team of the ministry said that young women were “indeed molested without provocation” by members of a pro-Hindu moral brigade at a Mangalore pub and blamed the administration for the Jan 24 attack. NCW chairperson Girija Vyas too made it clear that Venkatesh’s report was lacking.

In her report, Venkatesh had bypassed the brutal attack on women by Sri Rama Sene members, and instead said the club did “not have enough security” and that “women have to safeguard themselves”. She also shifted the probe focus to whether or not the pub had the licence to serve liquor.

The ministry team, which conducted a probe after it was dissatisfied with Venkatesh’s report, submitted its report to Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury Friday.

“I have submitted the report to the minister (Renuka Chowdhury). We found that the girls were indeed molested without provocation,” joint secretary Kiran Chadha, who led the team, told IANS.

Activists of the Sri Rama Sene barged into the pub, Amnesia - The Lounge, in the coastal city of Mangalore, 350 km from Bangalore, on Jan 24. They thrashed the young girls, dragged them by their hair and molested them for “violating traditional Indian norms”.

Following outrage over the incident, the ministry sent its team on Feb 1 as it was unhappy with NCW member Venkatesh’s findings.

Facing flak from all sides, Venkatesh was late Thursday night issued a show cause notice by the ministry to explain her “unbecoming” action and “dereliction of duty”.

But a defiant Venkatesh said she “abides by the recommendation and observation” she had made.

An agitated NCW chairperson Girija Vyas Friday said Venkatesh’s report lacked on three counts - no social activists or local advocates were included in the committee, none of the persons attacked were contacted or interviewed, it focussed on the licence issued to the bar owners that was not part of the probe - and was thus not acceptable.

The two-member ministry team, which spent two days gathering information, however, gave a clean-chit to the pub’s security.

“The pub is inside a hotel in the heart of the city. The local pub had bouncers but nobody can deal with a mob of 40 people. The matter is not of the hotel’s security but an issue of administration,” Chadha said.

She said the girls heard the mob outside and “presumed it was a riot”.

“When they fled, they were beaten, pushed around, pulled by their hair and were molested,” she said, adding that a report should have ideally come from the Karnataka government.

“The ministry has not seen any report from the state government. Law and order is a state subject - so they should ensure that girls are safe. Not just girls, even boys should be safe when they step out into the city,” Chadha said.

When asked about the involvement of the Sri Ram Sene, Chadha said it was difficult to prosecute them because of “political religious and various other reasons”.

“A decision regarding the matter would be taken once the minister sees our report,” Chadha said.

Before announcing their rejection of Venkatesh’s report, the NCW members met here under the chairmanship of Vyas.

“The report (by Venkatesh) focuses on the nature of licence issued to the bar owners when that was not part of the terms of reference issued to the committee. In any event, even if the pub did not have a licence there was no reason for anybody to beat up women,” Vyas told reporters while reading out a written statement.

According to Vyas, even if it was not possible to meet the victims, the fact that the accused allegedly admitted that they did beat up the victims under certain circumstances should be enough for the NCW to issue a condemnation and “make recommendations accordingly”.

Vyas said they are not forming another committee as the ministry had already instituted a committee headed by joint secretary Kiran Chadha that submitted its report Friday.

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