The chief of police in Bangalore has said there is no evidence a “mass molestation” took place in the south Indian city on New Year’s Eve.
Indians have been angered by reports that women in the city centre were sexually harassed and assaulted on Saturday evening. Six men were arrested on Wednesday in connection with another alleged attack elsewhere in the city that night.
Praveen Sood said a review of almost 70 CCTV cameras trained on two popular streets in the city centre had shown no proof of a mass attack on women in the crowd.
He told the BBC that footage used by the Indian media to allege a large-scale molestation was actually the aftermath of a melee that was forcefully broken up by police.
“People ran. There were a lot of girls there,” he said. “There was panic, there was a melee, they got separated, they were crying.
“So that 30 seconds of confusion is being projected as a mass molestation. I categorically say that nothing of that sort has happened,” he said.
His remarks clash with reports from one newspaper in Bangalore that its journalists in the area were “first-hand witnesses to the brazen, mass molestation of women”.
It also published pictures of one woman pressed in by a crowd of men and another appearing to cower on the shoulder of a female police officer.
A witness also told the Guardian: “I saw women being molested in the crowd and people trying to find places where they could hide themselves and not be attacked.”
“There were inhuman acts,” said Sammy Aqeel. “People were acting like they were helping the women, but actually they were molesting them, insulting them, just provoking them.
“Any girl who was passing through those streets was at least being monitored with [the men’s] eyes. That was the minimum,” the 27-year-old said.
“The maximum was that even if she was suffocated and someone was trying to pick her up, there would be lots of people trying to grab her. I couldn’t stand it; I felt helpless.”
In another account, published by the BBC, a woman identified as Pooja said she witnessed the crowd “pushing and shoving, touching, grabbing [and] groping” women.
She said she tried to navigate the crowd surrounded by a protective circle, but “even then when we were walking, there were guys who were trying to touch here and there”.
Sood said he had seen such reports and that police were ready to use them as the basis for further investigations.
Online Source:The Guardian