Terrorist attacks all over the country, a looming economic recession, corporate scams, corruption at all levels of government plus the usual poverty, illiteracy and disease. All of these mammoth problems and yet the “patriotic nationalists” of the Bajrang Dal and the Sri Rama Sene decided our most pressing problem was a bunch of young women having a drink or two in a pub. The recent attacks in a pub in Mangalore are particularly hard to digest, because having spent a considerable part of my formative years there; I do not remember ever having to deal with anything similar during my time there.
There are so many things wrong with this horrendous attack. The so called protectors of Indian culture didn’t just attempt to close down the place, but hit at, abused and molested a bunch of young women. From all accounts, it seems, these hooligans could have been beaten down by the sheer number of people present there at the time, but who only stood by watching, all except one man. And to top it all the state BJP government’s response to this incident has been nowhere near as condemning, hard and immediate as it should have been.
These attempts to impose on society one particular set of moral/cultural values are not new to us. Every year around February we hear of various nationalist/ Hindutva groups denouncing the degrading of Indian culture and threatening possible Valentine’s Day revellers with loss of limb and more if they attempt to celebrate. In a nation as diverse as ours who are these people to decide what constitutes Indian culture? Why does society let them get away with these acts of vandalism when they shouldn’t even be allowed to give out these threats? Why do we have politicians of various hues from the Congress’ Ashok Gehlot to BJP’s Yeddyurappa mouth off on what we should and should not be doing in our private lives without any fear of public reprisal? The truth is that if society stays silent in the face of these kinds of attacks, then it only emboldens these hooligans to carry out more attacks. It is time we stood up and declared that this sort of moral policing will not be accepted anymore. It is time we declared that ours is the land of the Kamasutra and a few young couples choosing to celebrate Valentine’s Day does not in anyway threaten our national/moral fabric. It is time Hindus all over this country shouted down the so called Ram bhakts and declared that the Lord Ram we worship respected women and would never raise His hand against them. It is time we firmly asked government or anyone else who nurtures moral policing ambitions to stay out of our private lives and that what we do within the confines of our homes and within the limits of the law should strictly stay there. It is time we reclaim our right to live as we choose, with whomever we want and how we want to. It is time to impose our own brand of moral policing.