Four days after the uproar over alleged incidents of mass molestation on New Year’s Eve in the central business district (CBD) of Bengaluru, the city’s police commissioner on Thursday said police did not find evidence of “any kind of molestation” in the footage from 60-odd CCTV cameras.
Commissioner of Police Praveen Sood told reporters: “On January 2, one of the newspapers raised this issue with still photographs, blurred photographs. We had to take it very seriously. We could not ignore it. At the same time, we cannot imagine things. We started looking into the whole video footage from approximately 55 to 60 cameras,” he said. “These videos were also sourced by the media from the police. We could not find any kind of molestation,’’ said Sood, who took charge on January 1.
He said four separate cases had been registered on the basis of media reports. He added that four youths had been arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a woman from the Northeast.
According to the police, the images of women crying on shoulders of policewomen and friends were not linked to incidents of molestation, but reactions to stampede when the police resorted to lathicharge to control the crowd in CBD. Sood asked mediapersons why incidents of alleged mass molestation were not brought to his notice on January 1 when he took charge and interacted with reporters.
He said the police had taken suo motu cognizance of four instances of alleged molestation that have been aired in the media. One of these cases was registered in Indiranagar, around 7 km from CBD. A photographer has alleged on social media that she was molested and that she in turn thrashed the offender. “One of the ladies went on social media and wrote all sort of things about what happened to her. We have taken it as the gospel truth. We have no reason to disbelieve her. We have been trying to contact her for the last two days. We could not succeed. Finally we have taken up a suo motu case based on her statements in a television studio and on social media,’’ Sood said.
The other three cases have been registered at Cubbon Park and Ashoknagar police stations. The case at Cubbon Park has been lodged on the basis of a woman’s statement to media in which she alleged that she and her family were harassed in CBD. “We will be sending a notice to the newspaper to cooperate,” he said.
Another case has been lodged at Cubbon Park police station on the basis of a woman’s account of harassment faced by her and her friends. The fourth case has been lodged at Ashoknagar police station after a man alleged that he and two bouncers helped some girls who were being harassed. “I appeal to all of you to please join hands. Justice cannot be done by making statements. It can be done only if they participate in the probe,” he said.