Cops have free hand to deal with moral policing: Karnataka home minister

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Karnataka Police have been given a free hand to deal with incidents of communal trouble and moral policing in the state and the BJP government is not protecting anyone, state Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said in the legislative Assembly Wednesday.

The Home Minister was responding to a statement made by Congress MLA from Mangalore U T Khader on the police turning a blind eye to incidents of moral policing by Right-wing outfits in coastal Karnataka.

Khader said, “The incidents of moral policing are increasing in Dakshina Kannada and the police have become ineffective. Accused persons are arrested in the day and let off in the evening. This will have severe consequences in the future. The lack of control on such activities by the police is leading to a law and order situation in the region.”

He also called for the police to deal with anti-social elements with an iron fist. Khader also cited an incident of lathi charge on protestors in the Uppinangady region Tuesday during a protest against the detention of a few local Muslim leaders.

Replying to his jibes, Jnanendra said, “We are not controlling the police. The Home Minister and the Chief Minister are not doing it. We want peace all over the state.” He also cited an instance of the Mangaluru Police taking up a suo motu case against persons involved in attacking a young couple from different religions on a bus in the city a few months ago.

On Khader’s reference to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s statement on October 9 in Mangaluru where he seemed to justify incidents of moral policing as “action and reaction”, Jnanendra said the police action was a reaction to the alleged stabbing of a policeman by a group of people.

“Even small incidents are taken seriously by the government. There is no differentiation on the basis of caste and religion. Police are dealing with these incidents mercilessly,” Jnanendra said.

The home minister claimed that incidents of communal violence cases in Dakshina Kannada had come down from 119 cases in 2017 to just five in 2021.

Incidentally, a recent report on communal violence and moral policing in Karnataka compiled by civil rights groups suggested that as many as 71 incidents had occurred between January and December. The report called for stronger police intervention to prevent vigilantes from taking law into their own hands.

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