After the nation-wide condemnation, many believed that Amnesia pub attack in 2009 would be an one-off incident in Mangalore, in coastal Karnataka.
They were proved wrong. A week ago a mob of 25 youth owing allegiance to Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV) barged into a stayhome, Morning Mist, in a residential neighbourhood on city’s outskirts and thrashed 13 birthday party revelers including five girl students.
The attack was engineered by Subash Padeel of Hindu Jagaran Vedike. The Vedike an outfit of Sangh Parivar was launched 25 years ago in Kodagu to uphold Hindu dignity and create awareness in Hindu society.
The Vedike has no membership and considers those attending its regular ‘bhaitaks’ as members. Vedike had enjoyed cult status when it successfully hoisted the flag at Idgah maidan in Hubli in North Karnataka and waged a relentless campaign to condemn the massacre of 17 Hindus in Bhatkal.
Vedike found an ally in Subash Padeel, who was looking for a vigilante group in order to raise his stature, among patrons in Sangh Parivar, for personal gain. Hailing from Mugera community (SC), and joined Bajarang Dal in 2002. When Pramod Mutalik parted ways from Sangh Parivar and floated Sri Rama Sene, Padeel followed suit.
Padeel led the vigilantes in the Amnesia pub attack which catapulted Mangalore to national infamy. “Padeel felt he was overshadowed by Sene’s leader Prasad Attavara and thus quit Sene in 2011,’’ says his childhood friend Sudatta Jain who also quit Sene to float a trade union—Akhila Bharatiya Karmika sene.
Padeel grew restless when Bajrang Dal leader Sharan Pumpwell saw in him a potential rival for political turf and visibility within Sangh Parivar. He joined Vedike along with his trusted lieutenants Munna, Ganesh, Suresh who earlier had assisted him in staging the attack on pub revellers.
The attack on the birthday party in Mangalore echoed in both the houses of the state legislature as the Opposition parties took the government to task for being soft on pro-Hindutva organisations.
Sensing the gravity of the situation, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar assured the Legislature that the government will take stern action against all those involved in the barbaric act
With Assembly elections round the corner, the BJP government is unlikely to act against these right-wing activists. This was clearly evident when chairperson of the State women Commission C Manjula questioned the antecedents of the parents of a victim rather than finding fault with the vigilantes. She, appears to have come with a mandate from the BJP to deviate the attack and in way supporting the attackers.
According to a senior police officer who worked in the region, communal flare-ups are the norm during elections. That the incident had tested endurance of youth was revealed when the victims received overwhelming support in form of bandhs, signature campaign among others. Barring one incident, all victims were inducted into their respective colleges.