Moral policing in Karnataka, again: Muslim men assault colleagues in Haveri

Byadagi police arrested seven people on the same day and are searching for two more in connection with the incident.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Jan 20, 2024 | 5:18 PMUpdatedJan 20, 2024 | 5:18 PM

Seven men accused in another moral policing incident in Haveri were taken to the court on Friday night. (Screengrab)

A woman belonging to a minority community and her male colleague were assaulted by a group of men in a suspected case of moral policing in the Haveri district’s Byadagi taluk on the evening of Friday, 19 January.

The police said seven people had been arrested, while two others were on the run.

The alleged incident occurred even as the Opposition BJP in Karnataka was preparing for a massive statewide protest against the moral policing and gangrape of a woman in Haveri’s Hangal recently. The protest was held on Saturday, 20 January.

The trigger for Friday’s incident was the woman, clad in a burqa, speaking to her colleague near a Shiva temple on Hamsabhavi Road in Byadagi. Both the woman and the man were adults, aged 27 and 26, respectively.

Also Read; Twist in Hangal moral policing case as woman alleges gang rape

The incident

The woman informed the police that she and the man were working in a cement factory, and that she had asked him to drop her off at her in-laws’ residence. Unknown to them, a group of men — all identified as Muslims — was watching them from a distance, and they soon intervened.

After questioning her for speaking to a man from another community, they started assaulting her. The man was also manhandled when he tried to rescue his colleague, even as a crowd formed around them.

The Byadagi police said they reached the scene in 10 minutes after one of the onlookers reported the matter to them. The police took the colleagues to a local hospital, where they were administered first aid.

Identifying the arrested men as Abdul Khader Mudgal, Mansoor Tandoor, Mehbooba Khan Badigera, Riaz Halageri, Alwaj Faizal Sahb, Abdul Desura, and Khader Kanake, the police said they were searching for two more, Salimsabh Qazi, and Mehabooba Ali Halgeri.

The arrested seven were produced before the a magistrate court and remanded in judicial custody.

Also Read: Will end moral policing, says new Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah

Swift action

The accused have been booked under Sections 143 and 149 (unlawful assembly with common intent), 147 (rioting), 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) 504 (intentional insult provoking breach of peace), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

“A few members of the general public in Byadagi informed us about a crowd that had gathered, and we reached the spot within 10 minutes and secured the accused persons and took the victims to the hospital,” a senior police officer told South First.

“I held a meeting with the police officers and alerted the staff to take preventive measures, and this incident was contained within 10 minutes. The incident took place yesterday (Friday) between 4:30 and 5 pm. Our staff in mufti have been deployed at different points. I have placed such miscreants under surveillance. We will trace all of them soon,” Haveri Superintendent of Police Anshu Kumar Srivatsav told reporters.

Incidentally, soon after taking oath as the Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah said that there wouldn’t be any moral policing in the state. He made the statement while addressing his first meeting with police officers in Bengaluru on 23 May last year.