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'How dare these people use my religion to terrorise young girls!'

January 29, 2009
Thrashing women in the name of God and culture. Is this Hinduism?" asks Anjali, a 25-year-old event manager in Mumbai.

"I'm a Hindu. My parents are Hindu. How dare these people use my religion to terrorise young girls!"

Anjali, along with the rest of India, watched in horror last Saturday as members of the Sri Ram Sena attacked the Mangalore pub Amnesia and assaulted its female patrons, claiming that the women were indulging in 'immoral activities' opposed to Hindu culture.

According to Anjali, most shocking was the audacity with which the attacks were carried out: In broad daylight and in full view of cameras and video-tapes.

"I just don't know anymore," she says. "In some ways, I feel that this incident in Mangalore has changed everything. This hasn't happened before. Sure, there have been isolated incidents with drunken hoodlums, like the 2008 New Year's molestation case in Juhu, Mumbai. This Mangalore attack was highly organised. It was politically motivated."

But does it represent the 'Talibanisation' of India, as some commentators have described it?

"That might be an exaggeration," believes Anjali. "Still, the comparison is easy to make: In both cases, religion has been politicised to infringe upon the rights of women."

Attack on women: Raise your voice NOW!

Today, Anjali's sentiments seem to echo all over India, by thousands of women who share her outrage. correspondents met with young women in Mumbai and Bengaluru to record their reactions to the Mangalore outrage.

Interviews: Insiyah Vahanvaty, Matthew Schneeberger, A Ganesh Nadar, Vicky Nanjappa. Video: Hitesh Harisinghani; Photographs: Rajesh Karkera. Image: A scene in a Mumbai pub. Image published for representational reasons.

Also see: 'If they were trying to protect our culture, this is not our culture!'

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