A minister has kicked up a storm for seeking to place the blame for the alleged "mass molestation" of women during New Year's Eve in Bengaluru on youngsters trying to "copy Westerners".
Speaking to a news channel on the reported incident, G Parameshwara, home minister of the south Indian state of Karnataka, said: "Unfortunately, what is happening is as I said days like new year Brigade Road, Commercial Street, M G Road, large number of youngsters gather. Youngsters who are almost like Westerners, they try to copy the Westerners not only in the mindset, but even the dressing."
He also condemned the incident and assured reporters that the government would look into the matter and ensure it was not repeated.
On 31 December, hundreds of people had gathered in the posh MG Road and Brigade Road localities of Bengaluru to ring in the New Year. Revelry soon turned into a nightmare when numerous women were reportedly molested by hooligans. Local reports suggest 1,500 police personnel had been deployed in the area as a precautionary measure.
According to the Bangalore Mirror, women who were being verbally abused and groped were seen running towards policewomen.
The incident has raised concerns about the safety of women in the city, and the chairperson for the National Commission for Women (NCW), Lalitha Kumaramangalam, has slammed the home minister for his remark.
Kumaramangalam has demanded Parameshwara's resignation and sought a report from the police over the incident.
"Such remarks from the Home Minister are unacceptable and regrettable. I want to ask this Minister that are Indian men so pathetic and weak that when they see a woman in Western clothes on a day of revelry, they get out of control? When will [Indian men] learn to respect women. The minister should apologise to the women of the country and resign."
Following the incident, the director general of police (Karnataka), Om Prakash said, "We will try to identify the culprits and take action against them."
The police are trying to identify the miscreants based on footage available on the numerous CCTV cameras that were installed in the area to monitor the crowd.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar from Karnataka also condemned the incident and said on Twitter, "Tragic n shameful ! I hope @CPBlr will identify, investigate n prosecute those who were invlvd n not brush it under the carpet!"