Every new year people take some resolution, whether they adhere to it or not is best left to them. On the same lines, “Treat women with dignity” must be a global resolution. It was a casual night off 31st December. Being the end of year, people tend to plan great and party hard. But what happened next is quite disgusting. When the clock ticked 00.00, the rest of the world hugged each other wishing ‘Happy New Year’, a huge mob, really huge, in Bengaluru did quite opposite.
Bengaluru, known for its high-octane parties, is also the IT hub of India. The initial estimates put the mob number at 15,000 – 25,000. However, there were 1500 policemen on duty. It was like human tsunami. Thousands flooded the streets of MG Road and Brigade Road, they attacked women in groups, molested and groped women in that dark night. Horrifying stories of women being groped, grabbing their modesty and many left unreported. Police just acted as witness to these events, making no efforts to help. Police have their version, “we were outnumbered”. But experts quote, police to people ratio of 1:13 or 1:15 is a normal case. But not to blame them completely, select few police officials have jumped into action very quickly, without whom this would have continued for long.
Geeta (name changed for privacy reasons) narrates her story,
“I was with my friend that night. We finished the party at MG Road and was heading back home. We met a few friends enroute. Hundreds of people flooded the streets. I thought it was some collective drive against new year celebrations. But NO! That anonymous mob was on a drive to squeeze every girl they came across. At a point, I couldn’t even trust my friend. He tried to help me, but in vain. I could have handled 2-3 guys, hitting, beating or shouting. I could have used pepper spray. But when 20,30 guys attack you with sole intention of grabbing your private parts, how can you stop it. Even I couldn’t resist them for long. I was groped and molested. My private parts were grabbed. I was a helpless fish out of water”,
an emotional Geeta couldn’t control her tears. Above all, it is the issue of respecting women’s modesty and women safety.
The aftermath of this incident is even pathetic. The state home minister making irresponsible statements, blaming it grossly on all women. His comments one half attire and traditional values have irked many. He went on to support the police and law & order enforcement wings, quoting they were pressed into action and hundreds were taken into custody. Politicians statements that alcohol consumption and short skirts invite these kinds of acts. But another girl shares her horrifying experience.
“Neither was I drunk nor was I wearing a short skirt. It was cool and i was completely covered. Neither the men were drunk nor was I inviting them with my behaviour. It just happened in a jiffy. They came, attacked, groped, touched me everywhere and targeted the next girl”.
Another chilling incident in Kammanahalli, East Bengaluru has been recorded in CCTV. The footage is widely available on internet. It shows the kind of witch hunting two boys were doing. A lady turns into an abandoned lane, walking all alone. 2 boys enter the same lane. Initially it looked as if they had no intention of harming her. later they take a U-Turn and stop the bike opposite to her. Then the driver gets down and pulls the lady, holds her tights, grabs her, touches her everywhere. He pulls and takes her to his friend who was the rear seat. He also tries to take a bit of her modesty. That brave girl struggles throughout that 45-seconds, but in vain. She falls on the ground and still those boys devilish act continues. After a few seconds, they leave the place. It’s hard to imagine the traumatic situation of that lady. Luckily enough, the footage was widely circulated in social media and netizens helped police crack the whip. Within 48-hours of this incident the police arrested those two. Later, it was revealed that they had been stalking that lady for quite some time.
Bengaluru already reels under many problems, pollution, traffic jams, steel flyover case, etc. Women Security is a new category added to the woes of its citizens. Politicians and other civil societies must rise above their professional lines and call upon people to be responsible. They must refrain from making insensitive comments when gruesome incidents like these happen. Bengaluru, which is by now, a city of migrants must not be looked as a cash cow. Protecting its citizens must be the prime responsibility of the government.
Also a few questions arise every time after incidents like these occur. Who’s to be blamed? Men, women or mindset? What are the security mechanisms at place? What should be role of civic society be? Social and community experts say, it must be a collective work. A change in mindset that wearing western wear of short skirts doesn’t necessarily mean a girl is inviting a boy to assault her. It’s her way of life. Also, police vigil during nights must be increased. Frivolous reasons that they were outnumbered doesn’t make sense. If the sanctioned strength doesn’t suffice the requirements, other forces must be pushed into action. Moral education gains primacy. Forget women, everyone must be taught to respect others as a human being. Human values are not taught in school, they are educated and imbibed from the society itself. Thus a tectonic shift in the mindset of people is the need of the hour!