It was July 28, 2012 at 6.45 pm. I received a call from my informer in Padeel (Mangalore). What all he said was: “Naveen brother, around 30 people have gathered in our Padeel Junction near the timber yard. They are talking something hastily with each other. Some were telling the others to call some more people. They were talking each others to get the bikes ready. It looks like that they are planning to attack a guest house nearby. I overheard the words, ‘Barry (Muslim) guys, Hindu girls’ etc”. I asked him to collect the information as to which organization they belong to. What all he could collect was that the mob belongs to a Hindu organization, but not exactly which it was.
The immediate question that stroked my mind was whether or not to inform the police. I was uncertain to inform. The reason was that I was uncertain about who, why and on whom the attack was planned. What I got was very preliminary information with uncertain details. I would have certainly informed the police if the information was accurate.
Immediately I rushed towards the spot along with my cameraman and reached the place where Morning Mist Home-stay is situated. No mob was to be seen. We waited for 5 minutes. We couldn’t understand who and why were planning the attack and on which guest house.
This Home-stay, with a huge compound around and a gate, is situated around half a km away from the Padeel highway. The Home-stay bungalow is around 60 meter away from the front gate. I carefully glanced around and found no activity that could attract an attack. A girl was sitting on a chair outside the bungalow and two boys were found to be playing on their mobile phones at another corner. They were not indulging in any kind of activity that could provoke attackers. In nutshell, it was as calm and quite as any guest house or house. I thought that I did right by not informing the police, otherwise I would have misled the police and been responsible for unnecessary police harassment on Home-stay and the occupants. Just then, I spotted a mob of thirty rushing towards the Home-stay gate. I out of curiosity asked them in Tulu, “What’s the matter? What’s going on?” A young guy in the mob quickly responded “Barries (Muslims) have brought our Hindu girls here. We shouldn’t spare them.” Suddenly, another guy from the mob pointing at the girl sitting outside the Home-stay said, “Look at, the girl is there... See the boys are also there...” Suddenly the whole mob started rushing towards the girls and boys for an attack. Completely unaware of impending attack, the girls and boys were just confused as to what was going on. Soon, they realized that the mob was rushing to attack them. A girl suddenly went inside and tried her best to lock the door from inside, but failed against the attacking frenzy mob of thirty people.
I was suddenly realized and called (from my office mobile number 9972577044) Mr. Raveesh Nayak, the Police Sub-Inspector of Mangalore Rural Police Station, on his mobile number 9480805330. It was about 7.45 pm. He didn’t pick up the call. The attack was just started. Not knowing what is going on, the girls and boys were running form one side to another and the attackers were thrashing them one after another from all sides. Then I called my friend Rajesh Rao who is also the reporter of another news channel TV9 and asked him to call the Police Sub-Inspector, explaining the incident. He too called the PSI from his number, but the call was not received.
As I was calling PSI and my friend, my cameraman was doing his duty. By the time, two more journalists, cameraman Sharan from local cable network and photographer Krishna, came to the spot. I was helplessly witnessing the horror. I was completely helpless. More than half of the attackers were completely drunk. I was requesting them not to attack and they were in no condition to listen my words. “Yeh... please don’t beat them... Don’t beat the girls. Please.. Please...” These loud requesting words of mine were just recorded in the video footage, but not in the hearts or minds of the drunken attackers.
The world must have seen violence of different kinds. I had so far heard about such horrors, but for the first time in my life witnessed them. Really horrible. The victims were pleading with folded hands and body, just as pleading before the God. “Please don’t beat us. We are friends and celebrating birthday party. We are not doing anything else. Please... Please... Please...”
The hard hearted attackers didn’t spare anybody. Four people were kicking and hitting hard one guy. Terrified girls were running around and the attackers were chasing them. Believe it or not, one girl jumped from first floor and around twenty attackers on the ground kicked her hard. Couple of guys slapped her with force. Her cloths were torn apart. Meanwhile another girl wearing pink dress was attacked by the mob. Her cloths were almost completely taken off making her almost naked. The attackers were deliberately touching her private parts. All these scenes were not shot. I saw such a horror for the first time in my life. Then all the victims were locked inside a room. All this happened within a short span of time, say 15 minutes. Everything was over.
After first phase of attack was over, Police Sub Inspector Raveesh Nayak, Police Inspector Munikanta Neelaswamy came to the spot along with some police constables. The point to be noted here is that the behaviors of the police and the attackers were indicating something wrong. The police personal seemed to have been in contact all through. I was really surprised that instead of arresting the attackers, the police were in friendly discussion with the attackers, for more than 30 minutes! One guy who was among the victims was trying to run away, but the police caught him and the attackers brutally beaten him up in front of the police!
By then, some more cameramen had arrived. I came to my office along with my cameramen and uplinked all the visuals to Bangalore head office. The news was aired immediately. All the national news-channels took our footage and the report and aired thus making it national news within minutes.
Enraged with this, Mangalore city Police Commissioner Seemant Kumar Singh called Rajesh Rao, my friend and the reporter of TV-9 news channel. I was with Rajesh Rao when the Commissioner called and the Rajesh put the mobile phone on loudspeaker mode so that we both could listen to the conversation. The Commissioner was saying: “Why did Naveen air this news? Doesn’t he have sisters? Doesn’t he beat them and is that aired on TV? I will see him. He has alleged that Taliban culture is deep rooted in Mangalore. He compared the incident with Assam incident while airing the news live. I won’t spare him this time. I will fix him in this case. Yea.. I do fix him however influence he may have...” What all the Police Commissioner meant was that brutally beating the boys and girls was not a big issue at all, but shooting and airing that beating scene was a big crime.
Another shocking was awaited for me this morning. I received news that the very same attacked boys and girls in favor of whom I made the news had lodged a complaint against me in Mangalore rural police station. However, I was sure that it was impossible for any of the attacked boys and girls to give complaint against me on their own. Because I think, all of them knew very well of my repeated requests to the attackers not to beat them. By evening, my doubts were clear. The youth gave statements before the media: “We have not filed complaint against any media persons. In fact, the media supported us.”
Anyways, Mangalore rural police have implicated me under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The police have so far arrested 8 attackers completely basing on the video footage that we shot. We are clear that what we have shot and aired was an objectionable incident, not an objectionable scene.
July 28 attack in Mangalore is not an isolated and rare incident. Such planned attacks are carried out on weekly basis. If Muslim boy and Hindu girl are found together, the Hindu communalists brutally beat them before bringing them to police station. Police would then call the parents of the caught friends (lovers) and release them after due warning. Had we not shot and aired, the present incident too would have met the similar fate. Our shooting and airing the present news has exposed the brutal face of the communalists and has led to the arrest of eight attackers. I have had a kind of satisfaction for doing justice to my job and giving something to the society, irrespective of what others say and under which case I am booked. Such satisfaction is enough for my grieving mind.
Lodging a complaint and registering FIR against me is not at all a big issue for me. I will be very happy if the cruel beasts get punished thanks to the FIR filed against me. No punishment is enough for those who assaulted the likes of my sisters right in front of my eyes. Still, they should be punished.