The local police have arrested eight of the nine men, who allegedly assaulted a Muslim woman and her Hindu friend talking to each other near a temple, in Haveri district of Karnataka, officers familiar with the development said on Sunday, adding that all eight men have been remanded in 14-day judicial custody, while a search operation is on to nab the remaining suspect.
According to the police complaint lodged by the woman on Friday, the incident took place near the Shiva temple in Byadagi, located 20 kilometers from Haveri district, on Friday evening. This is the second such incident of moral policing in the region within a month.
“A gang of nine Muslim men attacked the 27-year-old Muslim woman and her 30-year-old Hindu friend, both residents of Haveri and neighbours, who were in Byadagi to visit the woman’s relatives. The gang attacked the two while they were talking to each other near the Shiva temple in town,” the police said.
Superintendent of police (Haveri), Amshu Kumar, said: “Based on the woman’s complaint, the police registered a case against the nine accused under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 146 (punishment for rioting), and 354 (assault on outraging modesty of women), 324 (assault with weapons) of the Indian Penal Code.”
“Seven of the accused, identified as Abdul Khader, Mansoor, Mehbub Khan, Riaz, Alpaz, Abdul Khader and Salimsab — all aged between 22 and 28 — were arrested on Saturday, while the eighth accused, Mehbub Ali, was arrested in the wee hours of Sunday,” he added.
“Efforts are on to trace another accused who is said to have fled to another district. All the accused were produced before the Byadagi JMFC court, which remanded them in judicial custody for 14 days,” he said.
The incident comes weeks after a group of Muslim men allegedly raped a Muslim woman on January 9 while she was with her Hindu friend in a hotel room in Hanagal town of Haveri district. The police have arrested a total of 12 people in connection with the case, and all are under judicial custody. The case triggered statewide protests by the Opposition BJP, who accused the Congress government of shielding the accused because of “vote bank politics’’. The ruling party, however, dismissed the allegations, asserting that swift action has been taken in the case.