Mangalore, on India’s west coast, has seen individual and institutional freedoms being transgressed since the BJP government took over in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.
A legislator’s wife disappeared and committed suicide under a hail of speculation. Churches, convents, and prayer halls have been attacked. Buses carrying students of a co-education college have been attacked because girls and boys of different religions were travelling together. Newspaper editors have been arrested, handcuffed and jailed; newspaper publishers and directors have been sued.
As if all that infamy wasn’t enough, hoodlums of the Sri Ram Sena on Saturday barged into a pub at 4 pm claiming that “unethical activities” were taking place inside, and then slapped and kicked girls, and assaulted the men who were with them. The Sri Ram Sena has claimed responsibility for the act. Its convenor Prasad Attavar told The Hindu that it was a “spontaneous reaction against women who flouted traditional Indian norms of decency”. He said these women were Hindus who “dared to get close to Muslim men.”
Yet, a lawyer claiming to represent the Bajrang Dal has singled out New Delhi Television (NDTV) and issued a legal notice for mentioning the Bajrang Dal by name. The notice has been issued from faraway Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat, and the notice mentions the anchor (Naghma) and the reporter (Nihal Kidwai) by name.
Below is the full unedited, unexpurgated text of the legal notice.
Advocate Dipak Shukla, Advocate Gujarat High Court, A-3, Swagat Apt, Bodakdev, Ahmedabad- 380054, Tel 079-26851171
ATTENTION: ALL PUBLIC & PRIVATE COMMUNICATORS
Subject: NDTV Hindi reports mentioning Bajrang Dal name in Mangalore Pub attack (Report dated January 25, 2009 at 5pm, report filed by one Mr. Nihal from Karnataka & the Newsreader mentioning Bajrang Dal name was Ms. Nagma)
This is to bring to the notice of all concerned that:
1. My client Bajrang Dal firmly denies any involvement related to the said attack on a Mangalore Pub or Sriram Sena or any of their affiliated or non-affiliated people whatsoever or whosoever & any of their activities whatsoever.
2. Any attempt by any electronic media, print media, any public or private communicators, any government or private agency or anyone whosoever to spread the above or any such malafide, false, derogatory & criminally defamatory lies about my client will attract civil & criminal legal action as deemed fit.
3. Any damage to my client’s public & social image, standing as well as any Bajrang Dal member’s family’s social standing or businesses will be the sole liability of anyone who tries to spread the above malafide rumour. The financial compensation & the criminal as well as a civil legal action will be applicable to all who indulge into such politically motivated malafide criminal rumour mongering about my client.
4. Any political party or any person in any political party is found to be publicly or privately indulging in spreading the above natured malafide lies about my client will also attract suitable civil & criminal legal action as deemed fit & also will be liable to compensate the damages caused to my client organisation, its members’ family & family’s businesses due to the above criminally malafide activities of such rumour mongers in the above-said issue.
END OF THE ABOVE-SAID DOCUMENT. ANY ADDITION OF DELETION IN THE ABOVE DOCUMENT WILL ATTRACT SUITABLE LEGAL ACTION.