A day after a video emerged of a woman being molested by two men on a scooter in a Bangalore suburb, police arrested four men and are hunting for two more suspects.
The four arrested face charges of sexual harassment, assaulting a woman to disrobe her and wrongfully restraining her, police said on Thursday in the Indian Express newspaper.
The attack happened around 2.40am on Sunday when the woman, a student from West Bengal, was walking towards her home alone in Kamanahalli after a late dinner at a restaurant on New Year’s Eve.
Bangalore City Police Commissioner Praveen Sood said the main attacker was an IT student Aiyappa, who is accused of planning the assault and had been stalking the woman for a week.
The man on the scooter who helped Aiyappa was a commerce graduate working at a company. The two other men arrested over the crime were van driver Somashekhar, also known as Chinnu, and Suresh, a student and part-time deliverer for a restaurant.
Chinnu and Suresh, along with two others on the run, stood at the intersection of Kammanahalli 5th Main Road as lookouts to alert Aiyappa and Leno if someone entered the lane where they were assaulting the woman, police said.
Police said Suresh, who delivered food to the victim’s home, and Chinnu had also been stalking the woman.
Although the woman has not lodged a complaint, police have registered it as a criminal case and launched an investigation, Sood said.
“The video provided by a citizen made the crime clear and we registered an FIR [first incident report] on January 3. Six men planned the attack and the four arrested have confessed to the crime,” he said.
Sood appealed to media not to seek more detals and respect the privacy of the victim.
“She has been traumatized by the incident. Don’t traumatize her further. We’re in touch with her and trying to help her gain confidence [to file a complaint],” he said late on Thursday night.
‘No mass molestation found’
Sood also denied reports of mass molestation on New Year’s Eve on MG Road.
“Journalists with cameras were watching the New Year celebrations. If you have any footage to prove mass molestation, provide them to us,” he said.
“We examined 45 to 50 CCTV camera footages installed on the road. They were all police videos. None of them showed any incident of molestation.”
On January 1, only one paper published a molestation report, he said.
Addressing a press conference earlier on Thursday, Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara said the Kammanahalli incident was most painful and unfortunate, and locals did not behave in this manner.
He claimed there was a conspiracy to tarnish the image of Bangalore as a tolerant city where women had always felt safe.
Parameshwara said the government would never compromise on women’s security, adding that more than 550 CCTV cameras would soon be installed across the city.
He appealed to media to hand over any evidence or footage to prove that the mass molestation took place on New Year’s Eve in MG Road. Since many media vans were set up in the area, someone could have captured the acts on camera.
The minister also reaffirmed that he was misquoted by media on Wednesday.
“I said New Year celebrations happen every time, not molestation. The impression given was that I said molestation happens every time,” said Parameshwara, adding that he never looked down on Western dress or culture.