Wherever the police system is weak, crooks rule. All communal riots in the country have taken place due to the inaction of the police. Be it in Gujarat, Mumbai, or the riots that took place in Delhi recently, reports point to the police department’s failure and inaction. It has been alleged that while in some cases it was sheer police inaction during the riots, elsewhere it was the police who were directly involved in the riots. If the police take stringent action and perform their duties with utmost sincerity, no one will dare to riot.

Of late, moral policing has reared its head in several parts of the state including Mangalore. Ironically, the miscreants involved in moral policing are those who are ‘close’ to the cops. These miscreants who were earlier involved in rowdyism, robbery, and illegal activities and thus were ‘guests of police’ are now shining in the state with their ‘moral policing’ acts These people are taking decisions about who should move around with whom and to whom should farmers sell their cattle and when. People are alleging that the ‘soft stance’ adopted by the police towards ‘moral policing’ is responsible for the increasing number of such incidents in the state. While politicians are making flamboyant speeches that the undivided Dakshina Kannada district will play a significant role in the development of the state, these miscreants are trying to hijack the law and order situation in Dakshina Kannada district with the help of these politicians.

Politicians without realizing that development and anarchy cannot go hand in hand are inadvertently becoming huge obstacles in shaping the district’s future. In the undivided Dakshina Kannada district and Malnad districts, miscreants are wearing masks of ‘protectors of culture’ and ‘protectors of cattle.’  Any criminal activity performed wearing these facades get covert approval of the law. By wearing a specific colour shawl and taking advantage of the political support, they are wielding the authority of stopping any bus or any vehicle and conducting an inquiry as to who is travelling with whom and why. After the moral policing team completes the interrogation, innocent commuters or youth are taken to the police station where the police conduct an inquiry. This is the modus operandi. The police should first question these miscreants and ask them  who gave them the authority to stop the bus, if the government has given them the license to interrogate young women, and also the jurisdiction under which the ‘moral policing’ department falls under and take action against them. Action can be taken against innocent commuters only when it is proved that they illegal or unlawfully committed any act. Tragically, police have been taking action against innocent people who have been subjected to moral policing.

Since last January, in Dakshina Kannada district alone, more than 12 incidents of moral policing have been reported. Common people are analyzing these incidents in several ways. It is said that the reason for the increase in the number of such incidents is that the police are treating the miscreants involved in moral policing with kid gloves knowing fully well that they have criminal background. Another argument is that the police are hands in glove with Sangha Parivar. The main objective of these miscreants is to spread hatred against a particular community and instill fear in them. This is not limited to miscreants of Sangh Parivar alone. Recently, in Bangalore, members of an organization stopped a man on the bike and attacked him for travelling with a Muslim girl. Such incidents have taken place in coastal areas also. However, what is special is that the police are more than enthusiastic in taking action against the miscreants of a particular community while they take their own sweet time in acting against the miscreants of Sangha Parivar.

There is not much of a difference between ‘fake cow protectors’ and ‘moral policing’. Fake cow protectors are taking decisions on the streets regarding a farmer selling the cattle he has reared. And the police seem to have given their approval covertly to attack cattle owners or the drivers of the vehicles used to transport cattle, regardless of whether they are being transported legally or illegally. Sometimes they rob the driver of cash and other valuables like cell phones. Though several such cases have been reported, the police are filing cases only against the victims and not against fake cow protectors. How can the number of incidents of moral policing not increase when protectors of culture and fake cow protectors are allowed to roam around freely despite attacking innocents?

Due to such parallel policing by miscreants in Mangalore and other districts in the state, a situation has been created where students, industrialists, women, farmers and others are unable to roam around freely. Parents are scared to send students to educational institutions to these districts. Industrialists are hesitating to invest in coastal districts. Some time ago, an RSS leader had proclaimed Ullal as ‘Pakistan.’ It won’t be surprising if this area is branded as ‘Taliban-occupied area’ by outsiders if the law and order is taken over by miscreants. Before such a situation arises, the police department should understand its responsibilities, carry out its duties, and save its professional dignity. The coastal districts should be immediately saved from the clutches of miscreants.

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Mumbai: Dhanya Rajendran, co-founder, and editor-in-chief of The News Minute, has been honored with the 2022 National RedInk Award for 'Journalist of the Year' by the Mumbai Press Club. She received this recognition for leading her team in exposing the tampering of voter data in Karnataka ahead of the 2023 Assembly elections. Independent journalist Sharad Vyas has also been awarded the 'Journalist of the Year.'

The Journalist of the Year Award, an accolade for outstanding journalism in 2022, is a key component of the Redink Awards for Excellence in Journalism, instituted by the Mumbai Press Club 12 years ago. Past recipients include prominent journalists like Srinivasan Jain of NDTV 24X7, Ravish Kumar of NDTV India, Raj Kamal Jha of Indian Express, Faye D’Souza of Mirror Now, and the late Danish Siddiqui of Reuters.

The Mumbai Press Club stated, “Dhanya led a team of journalists who did a series of investigations during the Karnataka elections that confirmed what had been suspected all along – that the election process in India is not always free and fair.”

In November 2022, Dhanya spearheaded The News Minute’s investigation into electoral data fraud in Karnataka, uncovering malpractices ahead of the 2023 elections. The investigation prompted the Election Commission to order a review of voter lists in three constituencies in Bengaluru and led to the arrest of Krishnappa Ravikumar, the director of Chilume, the NGO behind the voter data fraud. Subsequently, the local government prohibited private organizations from collecting voter data.

The Mumbai Press Club’s statement noted, “The investigation uncovered a working prototype of how the electioneering process can be tampered with and then illustrated it through one constituency in Bengaluru to show how voter data was being manipulated.”

Dhanya, with over 20 years of journalism experience, has covered significant and overlooked news stories from South India throughout her career. Her focus on women’s rights, child sexual abuse, politics and elections, climate disasters, and human rights has garnered attention for several important stories at a national level.

Co-recipient of the 'Journalist of the Year' award, Sharad Vyas, "unearthed and published how the Indian Government's Intelligence Bureau imported the spy software Pegasus from an Israeli company, which had been officially denied all along."

Veteran journalist, columnist, and author Neerja Chowdhury received the RedInk 'Lifetime Achievement' award "for her contribution of over four decades as a reporter and analyst of political affairs and government."

The awards ceremony took place at the Royal Opera House in Mumbai on Saturday, December 2, where the honors were presented by Swantatra Senani GG Parikh and former Additional Solicitor General of India Indira Jaising.