Bengaluru molestation: minister appears to blame victims

03 January 2017

In the kind of thoughtless comments that are astonishingly common among Indian politicians, Karnataka's home minister appeared on Monday to blame the victims while brushing aside reports that several women were molested in Bengaluru during New Year celebrations while the police stood by.

''Unfortunately, what is happening is that on days like New Years, on Brigade Road, Commercial Street, or MG road, a large number of youngsters gather.

''And youngsters were almost like Westerners. They tried to copy the Westerners, not only in their mindset but even in their dressing. So some disturbance, some girls are harassed ... these kind of things do happen,'' minister G Parameswara said.

His comments came after widespread reports alleging that unruly mobs started ''pawing, molesting and passing lewd remarks'' on women who had gathered for revelry on Bengaluru's MG Road and Brigade Road, and several of the women took off their shoes and ran for help to the nearest policeman.

However, Nagaraj, inspector at the Cubbon Park Police station, said no complaints had been made against such incidents.

''We had deployed 1,600 police personnel in the area for New Year's celebrations and around 60,000 people had come there that night. But we had the situation under control,'' he said.

But a Bangalore Mirror report quoted people who said the police were badly outnumbered by the ''drunk hooligans'' and could only intervene intermittently. Despite several complaints, no cases were filed, the reports added.

According to The Times of India, eyewitness accounts suggest that the women in the upmarket area of Bengaluru were groped and lewd remarks were passed on them by an unruly mob despite the police presence.

Taking strong exception to Parameshwara's remarks, National Commission for Women chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam sought his resignation and an apology to the women of the country.

''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?''

Reacting to police's claims that there were no official complaints of molestation, she said pictorial information was enough for them to take action.

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