Police file complaint after widespread outcry over mass molestation of women on New Year’s Eve in southern city.
At least five people have been detained in connection with complaints of widespread sexual assaults on women during New Year’s eve celebrations in the Indian city of Bengaluru, police said on Wednesday.
The detentions came amid widespread outrage as female revelers complained they were groped and assaulted by a mob of men on MG Road in Bengaluru’s city centre.
The police, who initially dismissed the incidents saying it had not received complaints, took up the matter two days after the incident as videos of men assaulting women went viral on social media.
On Wednesday, television channels aired fresh footage from the same day, said to be from the closed circuit security camera of a private house, that showed two men on a scooter assaulting a young woman while some bystanders lurked at a distance.
The video is being taken as evidence by the police as they investigate complaints. "We have taken action by registering an FIR (first information report). Investigation is in progress, the city’s police chief Praveen Sood told DPA news agency.
Sood said the police had found "credible evidence in a case of wrongful confinement, molestation and attempt to rob" in relation to the MG Road complaints.
Five men had been detained and were being questioned, an officer at the police control room said.
Regarding the attack caught on CCTV footage, Sood said: "Criminal action is in motion. We are sure of arresting the accused."
"Two things really stand out here. One is that India has a lot of laws dealing with such things, but policing is still not efficient – there is not enough fear for the law and for legal repercussions," Dhanya Rajendran, the Editor-in-Chief of thenewsminute.com, said.
"The second is the patriarchal mindset that people have which reflects when the minister says that the woman should be blamed for the clothes that she wears," Rajendran said from Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka state.
Sexual harassment of women in India has been in the limelight since the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in the Indian capital in December 2012.
Despite stricter laws and measures to increase security of women, a high number of crimes against women continue to be reported every year.
Women’s activists say the number of incidents is likely much higher as women most often tend not to report such incidents to the police.
Outrage over the New Year’s Eve reports has grown in recent days, especially on social media after the home minister of Karnataka state, G Parameshwara, was seen saying: "These kind of things happen." Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka.
Parameshwara, who made the comments on local news channel on Tuesday, later said they were misinterpreted.
Regional Samajwadi Party lawmaker Abu Azmi invited even more outrage when he said: "It was bound to happen. Women call nudity a fashion. They were wearing short dresses."
"The minister’s statement is as usual blaming women for the clothes they wear and women for going out in the night, women for not taking precautions," Rajendran said.
"It’s now time for us to see this as not only a women’s issue but as a clear law and order issue, as a problem with our mindset and deal with it like that."