Bengaluru started the new year on a rather embarrassing note as incidents of alleged mass molestation were reported in the media on the eve of the New Year. And the reaction of the state Home Minister to the incident was equally reprehensible. Reacting to the reports, Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara said, “Such incidents do happen on New Year’s eve and Christmas and that they do take a lot of precautions.” His statement shows the level of complacency the authorities exercise in dealing with such issues.
Ideally, if the home minister and law enforcement agencies anticipate such incidents and had an idea that such incidents take place in certain locations in the city on new year’s eve then they should have done everything in their power to stop them from happening. Such a statement from a home minister takes away confidence of the common man from the state government and its competence to maintain law and order and ensure women’s safety.
A report in the Bangalore Mirror revealed that MG Road and Brigade road, two of the most buzzing areas in the city, were witness to mass molestation of women. The report claimed that thousands of men were mobbing revellers and groping women. The incident punctures police’s claim that there were 1,500 policemen stationed in the area.
If 1,500 policemen can’t find the collective will to stop mass molestation and a home minister says ‘such things happen’ and did nothing to prevent it, then it speaks volumes about the law and order situation in the city.
The entire ordeal sums up as a massive failure of the government and the police to prevent the horror suffered by hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent citizens. To top it off, an insensitive remark by the state’s home minister comes across as a move to avoid responsibility or accountability. Bengaluru is considered to be one of the safer cities in India. Such incidents and subsequent conduct of the authorities raise questions of the safety of citizens in smaller towns in the state.
Usually, the argument given by police and ministers is that they can’t go policing or following people to stop molestation or similar crimes. However, the inaction shown by the huge deployment of police personnel also raises question of the intention to act. Obviously the police cannot identify and try thousands of culprits from the night. But that measly assurance is all the government and the police have to offer. Apparently, prevention seems to be the secondary duty of the home minister and the police now. Spectatorship seems to have taken prime position.