4 Men Held in Bangalore in New Year’s Eve Attack Caught on Video
NEW DELHI — There is no mistaking what the security camera captured. A young woman walking in a residential neighborhood is followed and intercepted by men on a motor scooter while others watch from down the road. One of the men grabs her and tries to force her on to the scooter, but she resists. The man throws her to the ground, and he and his companion ride away.
The video surfaced after news reports of “mass molestation” on two main roads in Bangalore during New Year’s Eve celebrations — reports that the police said they could find no evidence of in security camera footage. The reports spurred widespread public outrage, which the police denials have done little to dispel.
The scooter assault, which happened in a different part of the city, first came to light on Wednesday, and by Thursday the police had arrested four suspects in the case. “We did not wait — we did not waste our time,” the city’s police commissioner, Praveen Sood, told reporters. “What had been shown on the video convinced us beyond all possible doubt that this was a heinous crime.”
Mr. Sood said the men in the video had been stalking the woman for at least four days, suggesting that the assault was unconnected to the apparently spontaneous hooliganism reported on New Year’s Eve. He said the police were seeking two more men in the case.
There has been considerable public outcry over the news media reports of crowds of men harassing and groping women on the streets of Bangalore during the holiday. Photographs of the police and the crowds have circulated, including one showing a woman clinging to a female police officer. The reports have been viewed as the latest signs of a pervasive problem in India with the safety of women in public.
Some officials, including G. Parameshwara, the home minister of Karnataka State, have stirred up the issue further with comments blaming women who dress and behave in “Western” ways for provoking the harassment. Mr. Parameshwara told reporters on Friday that his remarks had been taken out of context.
Mr. Sood, the police commissioner, reiterated in a telephone interview on Friday that the police had reviewed security camera footage from the two main roads in central Bangalore and could find no evidence of the “mass molestation” reported by the news media.
“On the night of Dec. 31, nothing happened,” Mr. Sood said. “The entire police force was there. I saw the unedited version, and I see nothing like molestation.”
Even so, several women have said in television and newspaper interviews that they saw women molested in the crowd that night.
Based on the accounts in the news and on social media, the police have formally opened four criminal cases under a law that prohibits attacking a woman “with intent to outrage her modesty,” according to Hemant Nimbalkar, a police official in Bangalore.
“Now we are requesting media houses and people on social media to provide us with other footage or accounts they may have of these cases, and at the same time trying to track down the victims,” Mr. Nimbalkar said.
Though the events themselves remain unclear, the controversy over what happened in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve reflects a wider conflict in India’s rapidly modernizing cities over the attitudes and mores of young people and youth culture.
Mr. Sood said it was evident in the security footage from Dec. 31 that “most of the boys and girls are totally intoxicated — their demeanor shows this.”
Neither the police announcements nor the remarks of Mr. Parameshwara, the state home minister, seemed on Friday to have assuaged public anger. In a video posted to Twitter, the cricket player Virat Kohli, who is based in Bangalore, called the events on New Year’s Eve in Bangalore “really, really disturbing.”
“For men to accept that it’s an opportunity to do something like this and get away with it, and people in power trying to defend it, it’s absolutely horrible,” he said.