I am sure a lot of our readers have been following the terrible incidents in Mangalore. I want to raise two very specific issues in this post.
1. The media, the government and a lot of other commentators are refering to the violent attacks in Mangalore as a form of “moral policing”, albeit violent. I find this very objectionable. The phrase “moral policing” attaches some sort of moral legitimacy to the act and only questions the act if it becomes violent. What the Mangalore attackers did and a lot of other misguided mobs are doing in India on a regular basis is nothing but sheer hooliganism with the intention of causing terror and gaining political mileage (and not necessarily in that order). There is no, and cannot be any, moral legitimacy attached to such acts by characterising such acts as “moral policing”. I think we need to recognise these actions for what they are- plain and simple hooliganism- and stop using the word “moral policing”. I hope the police, political class and civil society take such events more seriously than they currently do and treat them as what they clearly are- a threat to our fundamental values.
2.What is the difference between the Mumbai attackers and the Mangalore attackers? Despite being aware of the perils of comparison, I think the later constitute a more serious problem for us as a society. Even if one is able, at some unbelievable societal & philosophical level, to reconcile a ghastly incident like the Mumbai attack as an act perpetrated by “foreign elements”, it is impossible to reconcile the Mangalore attacks. After all, the Sri Ram Sena is an organisation formed by Indians and supported by other Indians, including a number of mainstream political and non-political actors. The LeT and Ajmal Kasab are not. Failure to control and prevent incidents like the Mangalore attack is certainly a more serious challenge to our society.