…and must be defeated
The outcry over a bunch of thugs going about their thuggery donning the mantle of ‘Hindu’ armies of Rama might well distract attention from other, more pressing, security issues. But it is well-deserved. The UPA government’s dismal record on stamping down terrorism and bringing terrorists to justice has created a cynicism that is, in turn, breeding a mindset that it is somehow acceptable for citizens to gang up and use terrorism to combat terrorism. So it is extremely important—even if it is our hyperventilating and frequently irresponsible media that does it—to highlight these events and raise the threshold for their acceptance.
Because the vandals who broke into the Mangalore pubs did so, and publicly justified doing so for ideological reasons, it is important to take them head on. No, Ram’s armies didn’t molest women. On the contrary they went to war against the army of a king who committed a crime against a woman. And by no stretch of imagination can a prohibition against alcohol be justified on account of Hindu religion—the earliest traditions of which celebrated mystic intoxication through the routine consumption of Soma. Social conservatives in Karnataka might have reasons to prohibit the consumption of alcohol, but if they wish to impose it on their fellow citizens, they have to take the political-constitutional route. Barging into pubs and molesting women is clearly an adoption of the credo and tactics of Islamist extremists such as Srinagar’s notorious Asiya Andrabi. As they sink deeper into their paranoia and intolerance, Hindu extremists—whether Mr Muthalik or mindless idiots like Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur—are becoming more like the Islamic fundamentalists they so hate. In doing so, paradoxically, they are departing from the fundamentals of Hinduism.
Repudiating their repugnant line of thinking is not only the right thing to do, but, as the BJP discovered after its unfortunate conduct over the Col Purohit-Sadhvi Pragya case, also politically astute. So it was good to see Rajnath Singh, the BJP’s president condemn it as “an unacceptable act of hooliganism”. Karnataka’s chief minister, B S Yeddyurappa says that his government will stringent action against the thugs and has also promised that a repeat of such incidents will not be allowed. He will be judged by his actions, but his feet have to be kept to the fire. On the other hand, he would do well not to pursue the stale old Bangalorean grouse against “pub culture”. The energies of the police force are better employed against thieves, thugs and terrorists, and not for enforcing virtue and preventing vice.