Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah cracks whip on moral policing

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BANGALORE/MANGALORE: Curbing moral policing in Karnataka’s coastal region tops the agenda of the new Congress government. Chief minister Siddaramaiah cracked the whip at his first meeting with bureaucrats on Tuesday, where he discussed instances of moral policing in the Mangalore region.

He sought a detailed report on these incidents in the past few years, and directed police to act tough on the perpetrators. The CM sought details about the measures needed to check such incidents.

After the BJP government assumed power in the state in 2008, there had been attacks on churches, pubs, homestays and people transporting cattle in the coastal region, known for its strong Sangh Parivar network and influence. The saffron party was accused of making the coastal areas a ‘Hindutva laboratory’.

In the recent assembly polls, the Congress swept the region, winning 10 of 13 assembly constituencies in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. The BJP could win only two, while one was bagged by an Independent. In 2008, the BJP had secured eight seats, while the Congress had five seats.

The Congress, which rode to power on the support of minorities, backward classes and dalits, has its task cut out. It’s important for Siddaramaiah, known as an Ahinda leader (acronym for minorities, backward classes and dalits) to protect their interests.

“Moral vigilante groups will be cautious from now on. Police will also be on high alert. Knowing the changed power structure and ideology, these are natural transitions,” observed a police officer.

The coastal region has a good concentration of Muslims and Christians. Many areas are communally sensitive, where the CM has directed suitable policing. He also told police to provide special training and arms for vigilance squads.

At the meeting, Siddaramaiah expressed displeasure at the rising crime, especially rapes, murders and robberies. Cracking down on police inspectors and DySPs for failing to curb crime, he warned them to improve their efficiency and functioning, and said they would be held responsible for any untoward incidents in their jurisdiction.

Fewer cops on VIP duty

The government is planning to reduce the number of police personnel deployed on VVIP security. As per procedure, police should review threat perception for people’s representatives and then provide security. But irrespective of the risk factor, MLAs and MLCs have got gunmen. Besides, the number of police personnel on escort and protection duty of VVIPs has increased.

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