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religious extremism and anti-western sentiment
Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP
Activists of the right-wing Hindu nationalist group Shiv Sena during a protest on Sept. 16,
2007.

Fundamentalist Hindu Group Targets Indian Bar Patrons for Their “Indecent” Behavior

January 26, 2009 03:10 PM
by Isabel Cowles
Members of the right-wing Hindu extremist group Sri Rama Sena allegedly assaulted women who were drinking and dancing at a club on Saturday night, accusing them of immoral behavior.

Attacks Attempt at “Talibanizing India?”

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Moral policing by a right-wing Hindu group in India resulted in the assault of several women at a bar on Saturday night.

Approximately 10-15 men, members of the group Sri Rama Sena, charged a bar and drove out women who were inside, accusing them of drinking, being indecent in their dress and socializing with non-Hindus. They also threatened the women that they would face “dire consequences,” if seen in pubs again, The Times of India reports.

Eyewitnesses of the event said that the customers were “thrashed” by members of the Sri Ram Sena as they tried to flee the bar, located on the busy road in the center of Mangalore. According to IndiaExpress.com, there have been allegations that some of the women were molested as well.

Police have arrested 13 men in connection with the incident and have been told by the group that the women were assaulted, “because of [their] attitude.”

Renuka Chowdhury, India’s women and child development minister, called the assault an attempt to “Talibanize India.” Chowdhury went on, “There is no place for these kinds of acts in India as it is a democracy,” and called on political leaders to condemn the incident.

The Sri Rama Sena sees itself as a preserver of traditional values, and in that role, has been linked to a growing number of assaults related to moral policing.

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Background: Moral policing by religious radicals

Radical religious groups have become fervent in their response to India’s increasing acceptance of Western traditions and influence.

For example, in 2007, a group of more than 100 members of the Hindu extremist group Shiv Sena met in New Delhi to burn Valentine’s Day cards and chant, “Death to Valentine's Day” and “People who celebrate Valentine's Day should be pelted with shoes!"

According to the Associated Press, the leader of the group, Jai Bhagwan Goel, denounced Western cultural traditions, noting that in America, girls as young as 11 and 12 are mothers and that every other man is divorced: “This is their culture—it cannot be accepted here.”

Related Topic: India and the Taliban

The increase in religious fundamentalist movements concerns many Indian authorities, like Chowdhury, who are reminded of the anti-Western sentiment of fanatical groups like the Taliban.

Although India has refused to formally recognize the Taliban as a political force, threats of its presence have plagued the country in recent years, especially as the Afghanistan-based Taliban spreads its influence into India’s neighbor, Pakistan.

In 2007, India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced at a press conference in Hamburg that an unaddressed resurgence of the Taliban was a great risk to the countries of the region.

Mukherjee asserted that Taliban extremists would use, “every concession to undermine, cripple and destroy the very base of the democratic and plural structure that the international community seeks to build.”

For more information on India and Afghani relations, which have been strained because of Taliban influence, see the Council on Foreign Relations profile of diplomacy between the two nations. 
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