Valentines Day went off fairly quietly. The police actually went and made preventative arrests of quite a bit of Sri Ram Sena men in Friday, so there were not many about. They did nab a few couples and in one embarrassing case, made a sister and brother tie the knot. Sunday Morning’s Times of India, which is a “pro pub” newspaper (and I never thought I’d see THAT in a newspaper’s editorial stances), gloated about that mistaken forced wedding on the front page. Supposedly, Sri Ram Sena’s publicity actually increased the awareness and mindshare penetration of Valentine’s Day here in South India. Nice own goal guys!
On an amusing side note, there was a campaign launched last week to send pink undies to Pramod Muthalik and it seems that the man’s mailbox was inundated. Siva was planning to buy a pair and send them as well. Sri Ram Sena failed to see the joke.
“Sending these chaddis to the leader of a patriotic organization is like insulting him. We will give a fitting reply by burning them.”
They also plan to send saris back to all those women who sent in undies.
You can’t make this stuff up!
Less amusingly, the railroad police took it upon themselves to fill the vacuum.
I know what saffronization means now. Saffron is a shade of orange. This is the color of hindu priest robes. Saffronization is a term for hindu political extremism.
I saw an article in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago about Sri Ram Sena and the Mangalore Pub attacks last month. Actually, that little article can’t do this theme justice. It is a big deal here. In a nutshell, a bunch of Hindu religious nuts, from a group called Sri Ram Sena, physically attacked women at a pub in the seaside city of Mangalore a few weeks ago; because they were “prostitutes”. Apparently, there is an element of society that not only does not want to see womene assert themselves and also enjoy a beer as men have for generations; breaking the law and resorting to “vigilantis” (the quotes are deliberate) is their methodology of first, not last resort.
The founder and leader of Sri Ram Sena is a man named Pramod Muthalik. Interestingly, his rap (charge) sheet is a long as that of a two bit LA gangster, but he has only been arrested once; in the wake of the publicity from the pub attack. He is out on bail and I think it is safe to say that he probably won’t be prosecuted. I’ve lived here long enough to know that.
They carried out the pub attack with local news crews in tow. Apparently, this bit of asshattery was calculated for maximum publicity. Since they did generate a great deal of publicity, they are planning to form gangs and go around tomorrow night – Valentines Day – searching for unmarried couples showing affection in public. They plan to force them to marry on the spot. It seems that the chief minister of Karnataka’s ego is too big to allow anyone else to be the biggest clown in the state. His response was that parents had to take care of their children. Not that the state would find such actions intolerable and crack down on such gangs; but what is effectively a wink and a nod.
It gets even better. Our driver told Daniela that he had wanted to talk his wife into going out in public and holding hands. He was going to bring a cricket bat. She refused. Instead, he will be recruiting the local rowdies to go and beat up the Sri Ram Sena gangs. Siva told us that she heard some of the Kannadiga nationalist groups saying similar things.
Unless the chief minister comes to his senses and actually does call the police out in force, downtown Bangalore may be an interesting place tomorrow night.