Karnataka: Muthalik & 25 Others Acquitted in 2009 Mangalore Pub Attack Case Over Lack of Evidence
In a relief to Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik and 25 others accused in the 2009 Mangalore Pub Attack case, the Karnataka court on Monday acquitted the accused citing ‘lack of evidence’.
The Third Judicial Magistrate of First Class Court, Justice R. Manjunatha stated in his order, “The accused are acquitted,” thus acquitting 25 out of the 30 accused in the case. While two of the remaining five accused are dead, the trial is still pending for the three who fled the country.
The orders provided a conclusion to the pending case of 24 January 2009 that caused sweeping changes across the coastal city of Mangalore.
Muthalik, who was present in court at the time of the judgement said, “We believe it is a triumph. Cases under some ten sections were filed against us, and we have emerged victorious today.”
Muthalik, in fact, apologized on behalf of the men on the ground for carrying out the brazen attack.
What was the case?
On January 24, 2009, women at the Amnesia Pub were assaulted, slapped and dragged by their hair by dozens of activists allegedly belonging to the Sri Ram Sene, a Hindutva outfit in Karnataka.
They not only claimed that the women had been violating traditional Indian values but also accused them of “loose morals”.
A video of the attack on the pub-goers got viral causing much outrage in the country.
This led to a range of protests including a “Pink Chaddi” campaign in which people sent pink underwear to members of the Sri Ram Sene raising their voice against the attack as well the threats issued by the outfit on Valentine’s Day.
Prasad Attavar, state deputy convener of Sri Ram Sene, who had taken responsibility for the attack on his shoulders, said, “It was a spontaneous reaction against women who flouted traditional Indian norms of decency.”
Nonetheless, Muthalik was exterminated from the district for a year after the attack and returning after two years, he referred the attack to be a “big mistake” and a “public relations disaster”.
“People are still wary about the Sri Ram Sene and refuse to give space for its office or any other activities. Beating the girls in the pub was wrong and uncalled for. It should not have happened,” he said.
However, defending the intention of the Sene activists on Monday, Muthalik said, “The outfit could not and shall not tolerate the youths of the country resorting to the “wine culture”.
Who were the accused?
Thirty were arrested after Rajashekar, the pub’s representative, filed a case over the attack on his guests at the pub in Hampankatta. Reportedly, the pub does not exist now.
The key accused in the attack were: Suresh Padil, Subhash Padil, Prasad Attavar. Sharath Padavinangady, Jeevan Neermarga, Vinod Neermarga, Rohith Adyar, Pawan Manjeshwar, Dheeraj Manjeshwar, Ganesh Attavar and Sachin Attavar.
Public prosecutor Chetan Kumar examined 15 witnesses, including investigating officers Vinay Gaonker and Umesh Shet.
Advocate Asha Nayak, who argued on behalf of the accused said, “The complainant, eyewitnesses and the male victims did not support the case of the prosecution, The police did not cite female victims as witnesses.”
The accused were booked of charges under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 448 (trespass), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504(insult intended to provoke breach of peace), 505 (false statement), 354 (assault on a woman with an intention to outrage her modesty), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
Reacting to the judgement, Mr Muthalik questioned that how could he be booked when he was not even present at the venue of the attack.
Allegedly, Muthalik was at a convention in Pune from January 23-25, and the police arrested him at the airport in Belagavi on his return on January 26.
Muthalik is considering slapping defamation cases against the Congress, which was at the helm at the centre and the BJP, which was holding office in the state.
He alleged, “The then BJP government fixed me, in this case, to torture me physically, mentally and economically. The present Congress government has continued to harass me.”
He is even contemplating legal action against the State government to seek compensation for his “wrongful” prosecution.