‘Rave party’ at Malpe causes political outcry3 min read
Malpe: The Spring Zouk music and cultural festival organised by the State Government, held from February 3 to 5 at St. Mary Island in Malpe, rocked the state legislative assembly after news broke of it being a ‘rave party’. The fest, which was jointly organised by the District Administration, Department of Tourism (Karnataka) and 3W Concepts, drew public and political ire after allegations of drug and alcohol abuse surfaced on local news channels.
Responding to the allegations, Dr. M.T. Reju, the District Commissioner (DC) of Udupi District told TMJ, “It was a musical festival. There was no overflow of drugs. However, a temporary permit was given to organisers to sell alcohol. Otherwise, there was nothing of any sort that happened as is being showed in the media.” Dr. Reju has been put under the scanner and the opposition has demanded his resignation for his inability to avoid such a situation. TV channels showed clips of some revellers caught in compromising positions.
The tickets for the fest were priced at Rs. 2,500 each and at Rs. 1,500 for students. According to news sources, the three-day fest made about Rs. 3 crore but only Rs. 5 lakh was given to the government. The rest of the amount went to the organisers. The fest was attended by about 900 foreigners and 1,500 Indians. One of the students who attended Spring Zouk said, on condition of anonymity, “Drugs were available on the island. Everything, including both soft and hard drugs like marijuana, hash and MDMA (ecstasy) were obtainable. Many couples also engaged in obscene activities in the open. All of them were probably under the influence of drugs.”
M.L.A K. Raghupati Bhat had stated that he was unaware of the happenings on the island even though he had inaugurated the fest on the first day. When contacted, Bhat refused to comment on the matter. Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda had defended the fest saying that tourism development was a priority in the coastal belt and no such incident had taken place. However, the minister announced a probe into the matter in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on February 7.
Opposition parties have reacted strongly to the conducting of ‘rave parties’ in the name of tourism promotion. Protests were held in the district on different days by the Congress, Janta Dal (Secular) and the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). Slamming the BJP government, Udupi-Chikmagalur Youth Congress Vice President Amrit Shenoy, speaking to TMJ, said, “The BJP has crossed all its limits. To a party which is custodian of Indian culture, organising rave parties in the name of tourism in intolerable. Days later, the BJP ministers were also caught in the assembly watching a pornographic film. The true face of the BJP has been exposed.” He also criticised the DC for allowing such a fest, saying that he was not aware of the religious sensitivity of this zone and that such an event was completely unsuitable in the area. “We plan to create awareness among the masses in the days to come and will seek the resignation of the M.LA.,” he added.
Commenting on the allegations made, Vilas Nayak, President, BJP Youth Morcha said, “The intention of the fest was to be a cultural fest. However, the people involved in the party might have made it a ‘rave party’, as heard in the media. Lack of experience in conducting such fests by the District Administration might have led to this. Blaming the BJP for this is incorrect.” He also said that if the probe ordered by the government finds the DC responsible, action will be taken against him, but that it was too early to make judgements.
Sub-edited by: Vrinda Manocha