In protest of Saturday night’s attack on a group of youth partying at a homestay, students of five colleges in Mangalore city boycotted classes while three colleges suspended classes for the day.
Even though prohibitory orders are in place in the city, students held meetings in small groups by the streets, thus evading police action. Alfred D’Souza, a final-year student of a degree college, said the students were protesting democratically. He said what happened at the homestay—intrusion of privacy and attack on dignity of women—had to be condemned.
Leila D’Costa, student of a women’s college in the city, likened the attack on the women to a gang rape. Rohit Kumar, student of a law college, listed out what punishment should be meted out to the attackers. He said Saturday night’s incident amounted to manhandling, attack on the modesty of women, attempt to rape, trespassing in private property, destruction of property, inciting violence through mass media, disruption of peace, robbery and dacoity. He said the perpetrators would get a good three years behind bars if they are tried.
There were students who remarked that the social condition in Mangalore was suffocating. They expressed a desire to get out of the city and shift to a place like Bangalore, where they can live life on their own terms. Preetha Jain, a student of social work, summed up this feeling when she said: “It is a sick society here. No individual freedom, you cannot have a quality life, you can’t wear the dress you want, you can’t go to a restaurant with your friends. Now you cannot even go to a birthday party of your friends! What do they expect us to do? Chant Bhaja Govindam and listen to Vande Mataram all our lives?”
Her tirade continued. “If the police and the politicians are listening, hear me out. You are making our lives miserable and one day you will pay for it. Youngsters will revolt against you and the moral police will attack your own children, but that day will be too late for you to redeem your conscience,” she said.
Management of only one college in Mangalore city stood like a rock behind its students when they chose to protest. St Aloysius College allowed the students to protest on the college campus, effectively shielding them from police action (in view of prohibitory orders). College principal Swebert D’Silva issued a statement, saying the students and faculty of the college were deeply hurt and frustrated over the Saturday night’s attack.
“It is highly disturbing to note that the frequent occurrence of these incidents have affected the peaceful coexistence of the civil society in general and the women and girl students in particular,” the statement read.