Updated at 7:06 a.m. ET on 2017-01-06
Women’s rights activists on Thursday accused Indian politicians of making misogynistic and insensitive comments following an alleged mass molestation in the southern city of Bengaluru on New Year’s Eve.
As many as 45 recordings from closed-circuit television cameras, which were circulated on social media over the past few days, showed dozens of women crying and screaming for help as they were being groped in Bengalaru’s busy M.G. Road and Brigade Road, where around 60,000 revellers had gathered to ring in the New Year.
Reacting to the incident, Karnataka state Home Minister G. Parameswara said “such things happen during New Year celebrations,” while Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi blamed the victims for being under dressed.
“In these modern times, the more skin women show, the more they are considered fashionable … if there’s gasoline, there will be fire. If there’s spilt sugar, ants will gravitate toward it for sure,” Azmi told reporters earlier this week.
Two years ago, Azmi caused an uproar by saying that women should be punished for getting raped.
“It is shameful and appalling that people in power are not condemning this incident and are instead making such derogatory, misogynistic and insensitive remarks,” Ranjana Kumari, chief of the New Delhi-based Center for Social Research, told BenarNews.
“Countless incidents of molestation happen in India every day, but authorities fail to act on them out of sheer negligence and indifference. The Indian society has developed a psychological perception of not thinking of women as equals and only as disposable items of pleasure,” Kumari said.
About 93 women are sexually assaulted each day in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
“Such incidents [of molestation] have no space in a civilized society. It is symptomatic of the attitude that exists toward women in India,” women’s rights activist Ruchira Gupta told BenarNews, adding, “What is even more shameful is the way in which politicians and authorities have reacted. It is deplorable.”
The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Tuesday demanded the Karnataka home minister’s resignation over his comment that such things happen and were the fault of Indian women trying to dress “like Westerners.”
“Such remarks from the home minister are unacceptable and regrettable. I want to ask this minister … are Indian men so pathetic and weak that when they see a woman in western clothes on a day of revelry, they get out of control?” NCW chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam said.
Police sources said six people have been detained even though none of the victims had come forward to lodge a complaint.
“As promised we have found credible evidence, repeat credible evidence, in a case of wrongful confinement, molestation and attempt to rob,” city police chief Praveen Sood said in a Twitter post on Thursday, but did not confirm the detentions.
Sood, however, retracted his statement while speaking to NDTV later in the day, saying, there was “no evidence” of the incident, while objecting to the usage of the term “mass molestation.”
“I am saying it did not happen. If something has happened, I said three days back, please come to us, we are ready to take action,” Sood said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Police Sandeep Patil said that investigations were ongoing and the police had identified possible suspects.
“We have not made arrests so far [in the mass molestation incident]. We will first do a cross analysis and then move forward. We should be able to deliver something substantial in a week or so,” Patil told BenarNews.
Four arrested in separate incident
Police said they had arrested four men in connection with a separate incident of sexual assault on a woman when she was returning home from New Year’s celebrations on Sunday.
Sood told reporters that the accused were arrested after police analyzed footage from security cameras installed on streets.
“When we saw the video, it was clear it was a case of molestation. The accused had been stalking the girl for a few days. The night the incident took place, they were partying by the road. When the girl got down from the auto rickshaw, one of them identified her. They then followed her near her house and molested her,” Sood said.
“We have got in touch with her [the victim] following the arrest of these men. We had to take some time to build confidence and she will [be] cooperating with the investigation,” he added.
An earlier version wrongly attributed comments suggesting that women should be punished for getting raped to G. Parameswera.