[This summary comes to us from ARVIND NARRAIN (ALF) of a report brought out by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Karnataka (PUCL-K) in the wake of the attacks on women in Mangalore by cadres of the Hindu right-wing Sri Ram Sene.]
It was only after the continuous telecast of the images of the women who were subjected to an horrific assault by cadres of the Sri Ram Sene in a pub in Mangalore on January 24, 2009, that public attention gravitated towards what was happening in Mangalore. Self styled vigilante groups in Dakshina Kannada have begun to police social interactions between members of different religious communities such as boys and girls drinking juice together or sitting together on a bus merely because they come from different religious communities. Cultural policing also targets women in particular and lays down norms with respect to public spaces they can occupy and the clothes which they can wear. Cultural policing has as its primary target, young people. From Shefantunde (16) who was attacked for talking to a Hindu girl to a college student Shruti and Shabeeb for talking on a bus to Anishwita (23), Akeel Mohammmad (24) and Pramilla(22) for drinking a juice together, its the young which has come under vicious attack. Perhaps we also need to think of the young not just as victims but indeed as agents of social transformation who through their everyday acts of fraternal living are fulfilling the promise of the Indian Constitution and thereby imperiling the ideological agenda of those who see India differently. Cultural policing aims to punish all those who try to live out the meaning of the Preamble’s promise of ‘fraternity’ and is a fundamental attack on the very Constitutional order. The promise of fraternity held out in the Preamble is what is contested at its very roots by cultural policing. What cultural policing wants to produce are monolithic self-enclosed communities with no form of social interaction between them. It is antithetical to the idea of ‘We, the people of India’ and insists that India is no more one nation, but rather a collection of separate peoples. This Report documents how sixty years after independence, the vision of the framers of the Constitution is sought to be so completely repudiated by organizations which are bent on ripping out the heart of Indian Constitutionalism.
The full report is available on the Alternative Law Forum website and can be accessed here.