Karnataka Police’s Anti-Communal Wing: What it is, who will man it, and what it will do to curb moral policing

Mangaluru city police are identifying criminals with moral policing records and are making them furnish indemnity bonds.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Jun 09, 2023 | 8:39 PMUpdatedJun 09, 2023 | 8:39 PM

Home Minister Dr G Parameshwara with police officials in Mangaluru

The Mangaluru Police Commissionerate will have Karnataka’s first Anti-Communal Wing.

The wing, announced on 6 June, is meant to curb communal and moral policing instances in the state.

The pilot phase of the wing will be rolled out under the commissionerate since the police there have identified moral policing pockets and people involved in it, Home Department sources told South First.

The police were also trying to identify people involved in moral policing at other places across the state.

Moral policing is a term used to describe vigilante groups enforcing a code of morality without legal authority.

The Anti-Communal Wing personnel would be specifically trained to identify and handle moral policing incidents and to book the culprits and perpetrators.

“The wing will be formed by drawing personnel from the existing police force. They will have the additional responsibility of curbing moral policing incidents in their jurisdictions. If instances of moral policing continue unabated, then the Anti-Communal Wing will be answerable,” a senior police officer told South First.

It may be recalled that the latest incident of a suspected moral policing case was reported from Someshwar Beach near Ullal on Mangaluru city’s outskirts on 1 June. A group of men assaulted three para-medical college students for accompanying their female collegemates belonging to a different religious faith.

Also read: Will end moral policing, says Karnataka’s new CM Siddaramaiah

Special training 

Mangaluru City Police Commissioner Kuldeep Kumar R Jain said the wing would focus on communal cases and moral policing incidents and deal with them in a coordinated and methodical manner.

The wing will be trained and specialised to identify and handle communal and moral policing instances, he said.

“The Anti-Communal Wing will also have the responsibility of constantly monitoring the accused persons in communal and moral policing cases, and also follow up the case status in courts,” Jain told South First.

“The wing will also be trained in when to extern culprits or book the accused under the Goonda Act in case they repeat the offence,” he further said.

The commissioner said those involved in moral policing incidents over the past five years have been identified. They would be asked to furnish indemnity bonds for a year.

“We have collected, segregated, measured, and also evaluated the data of people involved in communal and moral policing incidents,” Jain said, adding: “Those breaching the bond would be penalised.”

Sources in the Home Minister’s Office told South First that the Anti-Communal Wing personnel would be trained like the Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel. They would be expected to respond quickly, secure the perpetrators and register criminal cases against them.

The police would form a framework for the Anti-Communal Wing, which would initially focus on deterring such crimes and preventing them from recurring.

Also read: Bajrang Dal members assault 4 for roaming at night in Mangaluru

Home minister meets top cops

Home Minister Dr G Parameshwara announced the formation of the Anti-Communal Wing on Tuesday, 6 June. The newly-elected Congress government in the state had promised in its election manifesto that it would make Karnataka the “Paradise of Peace”.

The manifesto also guaranteed decisive action against individuals and organisations spreading hatred between communities.

In a recent meeting with top police officers, the home minister discussed steps to curb incidents of communal and moral policing.

“There are many instances of moral policing in the coastal region. If moral policing incidents are not curbed, it will not only bring disrepute to the police department but also the state,” Minister Parameshwara said.

The meeting was attended by the Inspector General of Police (West Zone) and the Mangaluru police commissioner.

“Stringent action should be initiated in instances of moral policing to curb the menace,” he said while announcing the formation of the Anti-Communal Wing.

“I have directed senior police officers to take stringent measures and maintain a zero-tolerance policy against those involved in moral policing,” he added.

Also read: Karnataka BJP to launch helpline to take on ‘legal atrocities’

BJP Helpline to prevent ‘legal atrocities’

Even as the Siddaramaiah-led government has been moving ahead to handle moral policing and communal incidents with an iron fist, the BJP’s National Yuva Morcha chief and Member of Parliament Tejasvi Surya said the party’s Legal Cell would soon launch a helpline to prevent all “legal atrocities” by the Congress government.

Stating that the Legal Cell convened a meeting with all its lawyers, he said it was ready to face the legal atrocities, abuse of power, false cases, and false FIRs.

Incidentally, Karnataka witnessed such helplines earlier.

During the run-up to the 10 May Assembly elections, the Karnataka unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) set up a “Love Jihad Helpline” in the communally sensitive Mangaluru.

The VHP, along with other Hindutva outfits like the Bajrang Dal, claimed that the helpline was to prevent Hindu women from being converted to other religions.