BENGALURU: Three days after the New Year's Eve revelry turned into a nightmare for several women who were allegedly molested at a large gathering in city's downtown area, police on Tuesday claimed to have found "credible evidence" of molestation and have registered a First Information Report or FIR. As the incidents sparked widespread outrage with no action from the police, Bengaluru's new police chief Praveen Sood, through a series of tweets on Tuesday night, said his team was working on the case silently.
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"As promised we have found credible evidence repeat credible evidence in a case of wrongful confinement, molestation and attempt to rob. We have taken action by registering an FIR. Investigation is in progress. Police is working.... though silently," Mr Sood said in a tweet.
On Wednesday, video footage showing a woman being molested on New Year's Eve by two men on a scooter while passers-by watched added to the nationwide outrage, battering the IT hub's claim of being one of the safest cities in India again.
Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara, who was widely criticised on Tuesday for his remarks on the incident, said his statement was interpreted out of context. The minister, who is responsible for policing, said in an interview to Times Now yesterday that "western culture" is to blame and that "these things do happen".
"I am extremely pained by the fact that my statement with respect to the alleged molestation incident has been interpreted out of context and not taken in its entirety," he said while women's rights activists and opposition parties demanded his resignation.
Union Home Minister Kiren Rijiju tweeted, "We can't allow such shameful act of #MassMolestation go unpunished. Bangaluru is a vibrant city & women must be safe in a civilised society (sic)."
Mr Parameshwara said had footage from security cameras is being trawled to identify those who sexually harassed and molested women. On New Year's Eve, there were 1,500 cops patrolling the city. Those at the city's famous MG Road were unable to cope with the huge crowd that had gathered there. And then men, some of them drunk, went berserk.
Lalitha Kumaramangalam, who heads the National Commission for Women, said the minister is obliged to resign over his comments. "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?" she asked.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, top entrepreneur who lives in Bengaluru, tweeted, "A shameful incident which I hope is an aberration n will never happen again. Police must be proactive n use CCTV footage to book hooligans (sic)."
A young woman who was present on the boulevard in the heart of the Karnataka capital that night described the situation as "almost a stampede" and said she saw "girls crying and shouting for help." One woman, she said, fainted, another took off her shoes to fend off attackers.
"Whenever a woman passed the molesters groped and pawed them, taking advantage of the intense crowd. You can fight back one or two people but how do you fight a crowd," she said, emphasising that men were "intentionally" targeting women. It was "mass molestation," she said.