Local TV reporter Naveen Soorinje, who caught on tape the hooliganism at Mangalore's Morning Mist resort on Saturday, is keen on delivering justice to the accused Hindu Jagarana Vedike activists, despite the risk of facing a lockdown in jail.
Soorinje, who is currently facing charges for his alleged unethical reporting, told IBTimes that he won't move the court for anticipatory bail or seek ways to clear the charges against him, saying that he would rather endure difficulties to see that the concerned offenders would be taken into the hands of law.
"It doesn't matter to me that there are complaints filed against me and an FIR has been lodged. I will be happy if the attackers are punished because of the FIR lodged against me. If I am to be freed of these charges because of some pressure and if that is going to benefit the attackers in any way, then I do not need such freedom," Soorinje said.
"No matter what punishment is given to the attackers, it will never do justice to those girls who were assaulted right in front of my eyes. Yet they need to be punished," he added.
Soorinje, who was present during the attacks, caught on video the horrifying act of the activists assaulting several young girls and boys after intruding into a private birthday party, which was celebrated at Morning Mist Resort located in the suburbs of Mangalore.
The reporter said that he incurred the wrath of a top police official for covering the incident.
In one of his statements on the incident, Soorinje alleged that City Police Commissioner Seemanth Kumar, who was upset over the media coverage of the incident, warned to teach him a lesson.
"Why should Naveen have reported the incident? I will teach him a lesson," Soorinje cited Seemanth Kumar as saying this to friend and colleague Rajesh Rao, a reporter of TV9.
Soorinje said that Commissioner continued his tirade on the phone saying: "He (Soorinje) not only compared this incident to the Assam incident, but also said that Mangalore is being Talibanized. This time he will be taught a lesson. We will fix him in this case and none of his contacts at any level will be of any help."
The reporter stated that such assaults on students were not something new in Mangalore, saying that similar incidents happen almost every day and are going unreported. "Fundamentalists attack boys and girls mingling with the boys and girls of other religions and also take them to the police station," he said.
In a recollection of the latest attacks, Soorinje said that a girl jumped off the first floor to escape from the mob but was eventually caught by nearly 20 assailants who began to pull at her clothes. "They slapped her and pushed her to the wall. By then the girl managed to run away. When the attackers caught her, she was literally stripped to her undergarments," he revealed.
Soorinje said that most of the men accused were intoxicated and were in no mood to listen to anyone. Meanwhile, he regretted saying that he stood as a "mute witness" as he and his cameraperson were too small in number to confront the mob.
The reporter and his cameraman Shiva Kumar have been booked under Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act along with the HJV activists.
Soorinje was suspected to have willingly taken a discreet stand on the incident in a bid to cover the story first and to build up TRP ratings for the channel he works for.
The allegations surrounding Soorinje's role in the incident of moral policing have sparked a debate on the responsibilities of journalists during such unfortunate occurrences. Several questions were raised whether a scribe is supposed to remain on stand-by and capture on tape the victim's ordeal or reach out to their rescue.