Darkest night of the garden city

The police were more worried perhaps with their own transfers that were happening on New Year's eve .

The eve of the New Year 2017 is going to be remembered as the darkest night of the beautiful garden city of Bengaluru.

This graceful city which wears its cosmopolitan culture and its multilingual competence proudly, will not forgive the mass molestation of women. The city will speak out in every language that it knows, until the perpetrators are punished.

M G Road and Brigade Road are part of the central business district of Bengaluru. This is where traditionally the New Year eve celebrations are held and people gather and usher in the New Year. Arrangements are made by event management companies and the state government deploys police personnel for safety and precaution.

But the hooligans came in droves and began zoning in on their targets – the women – and started molesting them. A young man, who was an eyewitness to this mass molestation, could not protect his lady friend from being groped despite trying to help her along with his three other male friends. Such a thing had never happened in the city.

It is the city where women enjoy the freedom of being independent, in the way they pursue a career, in the way they lead a life of their choice and enjoy a lifestyle that suits them. The IT capital sees a vibrant young crowd working hard and partying harder. No such untoward incident had occurred before this one. That’s why Bengaluru is justifiably shocked.

The city is also shocked because the top brass of police officials did not determinedly assure the people that they will look into the matter. They did not project any commitment in inquiring into the matter as the protectors should. They were on the back foot stating that none of the victims had come forth to file any FIR.

There was not even a perfunctory condemnation of the incident by these officials on the heinousness of molestation. They looked unperturbed. It appeared like they did not care. Only after much media pressure did they begin looking at the footage from CCTV cameras that were installed on these roads.

The next salt to wound treatment of this incident was by the state home minister who said, ‘these things happen’. He implied that western lifestyle and clothes were the reason for mass molestation. What this thoughtless man did was give immunity to such acts by people who invade the modesty of women. He was justifying the acts of these perpetrators. Sadly, the chief minister was silent on the matter.

Abu Azmi, a member of the Samajwadi Party, placed his view on this horrific molestation by blaming women and implying that they warranted such reactions from men, because they showed skin and that they were neither with their brother nor husband after sunset. This man is possibly a well-preserved fossil from a bygone era.

There is no other way of making sense of his draconian way of thinking. Sir, this is Bengaluru where women make up a large work force and are contributing to the country’s exchequer. This is the land of Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the women entrepreneur and many such businesswomen.

I rage as I write this article. I cannot fathom how the police made weak preparations and took so little precaution. They should have asked for a reinforcement of reserve police and armed paramilitary, to keep the crowds warned of even thinking of misbehaving.

There was obviously not much thought given by the police to protecting the citizens, with their own transfers – happening on the eve of the New Year – and their preoccupation with that being a greater issue.

Dragging feet

It is troubling to see that the police and the Karnataka government are apathetic to the molestation of women. Sadly, they did not show outrage at all. They were dragging their feet about investigating until the media compelled them to.

This unequal gender entitlement certified by the city’s police officials and the home minister cannot be forgiven. How does a man in such a high ranking position make a placid statement that no women have come forth to file any FIR, when mass molestation has taken place under his watch? Is there no self-respect left in him to prove that he has the mettle to book the rogues?

I would really like to know what else concerns the home minister than mass molestation that he goes into somnolent platitudes of too much westernisation. May their high-handed bigotry rest with them.

The rule of law does not apply here, because if the daughter of a politician was celebrating her ostentatious wedding, then the entire police force will be aligned playing sentinel to see the smooth travel for politicians.

It is obvious that the hooligans, the police and our home minister believe in the same line of thought. So why blame it on westernisation or western culture? The West is light years ahead of us in civic responsibility.

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