Sri Ram Sena
|Manglam Lal Srivastava and Pramod Muthalik|
The Sri Ram Sena (literally, "The Army of Lord Rama"), or Sri Ram Sene, is a right-wing Hindu group headed by Manglam Lal Srivastava and Pramod Muthalik. It has received media attention for its acts of moral policing, including the 2009 Mangalore pub attack.
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Activities and accusations
The group is mentioned in the charge sheet filed by the Maharashtra Police following the 2006 Malegaon blasts. In the transcript of a conversation, the prime accused, Prasad Shrikant Purohit, is heard praising the Shri Ram Sena and calling Pramod Muthalik its leader. Muthalik staunchly defended Pragya Singh Thakur, another of the accused, saying she was innocent. An investigation found that neither the Sri Ram Sena nor Muthalik were involved in the blasts. In an interview with Rediff.com, Muthalik said, "Look at the Hubli case where so many terrorists were arrested. These arrests helped in cracking a nationwide nexus of the Students Islamic Movement of India. It was our boys who gave information about these terrorists and on the basis of our information the police nabbed these anti-national elements."
On 24 August 2008, the Sri Ram Sena vandalized an Exhibition of M F Hussain's paintings in Delhi. The exhibition had been organized by SAHMAT, an NGO, to protest against the exclusion of Husain's works from the concurrent India Art Summit.
On 27 October 2008, activists of the Sri Ram Sena ransacked the central office of the Samajwadi Party in New Delhi, in retaliation for defamatory comments alleged to have been made by the Samajwadi leadership against slain Delhi Police Inspector M C Sharma. Taking responsibility for the attack, the Sri Ram Sena's national general secretary Binay Kumar Singh told the Press Trust of India that he and his supporters had entered the premises of the Samajwadi Party office and damaged some vehicles parked inside, as well as furniture and hoardings.
The members of the Sena attacked young men and women after dragged them out of a pub in Mangalore, on 24 January 2009. A group of 40 activists of the Sena barged into the pub "Amnesia — The Lounge" and beat up a group of young women and men, claiming the women were violating traditional Indian values. Two of the women were hospitalized. The video of the incident has become one of the most watched clips on YouTube, though how the TV crew happened to be ready at the 'unannounced' attack is not known. Commenting on the incident, founder Pramod Muthalik said "Whoever has done this has done a good job. Girls going to pubs is not acceptable. So, whatever the Sena members did was right. You are highlighting this small incident to malign the BJP government in the state."
In January 2009, Muthalik announced a plan to target couples found dating on 14 February, Valentine's Day. He said "Our activists will go around with a priest, a turmeric stub and a mangalsutra on 14 February. If we come across couples being together in public and expressing their love, we will take them to the nearest temple and conduct their marriage." On 9 February 2008, P. Chidambaram the Indian Minister of Home Affairs, said, "Sri Ram Sena is a threat to the country. The Centre is watching its activities with great concern".
Muthalik's remarks aroused widespread criticism and protests like the Pink Chaddi Campaign. As a precaution, Muthalik and 140 others of the Sri Ram Sena were held in preventive custody on Valentine’s Eve and released a few days later.
On 12 October 2011 a few Sri Ram Sena activists allegedly assaulted senior lawyer and social activist Prashant Bhushan in his Supreme Court chamber. The Sena leadership denied any involvement. Police determined that the attackers were not from Sri Ram Sena.
The organisation's top aides were recorded on camera agreeing to vandalise an art exhibition in return for money in an undercover investigation by Tehelka.
In January 2012, seven people were arrested in Bijapur, Karnataka, for raising Pakistan's national flag on a government building. They were charged with trying to create tension in the town, which has a sizeable Muslim population. According to the police, they were members of Sri Ram Sena, though the organization denied it.
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