The victim was molested on Monday night for around 40 minutes on a busy street outside a pub in Guwahati's Christian Basti area. Just one kilometre away is the nearest police station, and the government's headquarters at the state secretariat. But the police took 30 minutes to get there after they received an emergency call.
Of the 50-strong mob, 11 people have been identified. Just four of them have been arrested so far, even though they are on camera. The first arrest was made only on Wednesday, two days after the incident.
The police says the main accused is a man named Amarjyoti Kalita, seen wearing a red shirt in the video. The police believe he instigated and led the mob that molested the victim. His Facebook profile describes him as James Bond. (Read)
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has ordered an inquiry and has asked for a report within 15 days.
A hoarding in Guwahati put up by the government this morning shows the faces of some of those identified, including the main accused Kalita. The text on it reads: "These people have shamed the Assamese society. Please identify them. Your dear ones could also be victims of these predators. Please identify them and inform the nearest police station."Jayanta Choudhary, Director General of Police, said the police expect to arrest the rest "in a couple of days." He said the police want to make sure that it is able to chargesheet those guilty.
According to the police commissioner, three girls including the victim went to a bar with two boys; they got into a fight. When they left the pub, their fight turned violent. People gathered at a nearby rickshaw stand tried first to separate the victim and the boy she was fighting with but soon, the girl began to be molested. The police took 30 minutes to arrive there.
An editor of a local newspaper, Mukul Kalita, tried to help the girl but was beaten up by the mob. "She held on to me, saying 'Uncle, help me' while the mob heckled her," Mr Kalita told NDTV. The group molested the girl even after she had been rescued by the police and was inside the police jeep in the midst of cops. (Watch)
A reporter from a local news channel, Dipya Bordoloi, said he tried to help the victim when he saw the commotion. "It was almost like a gang-rape," he said, adding that when it was clear that the mob could not be overcome, he began filming the incident for evidence against the attackers. He told NDTV he was disgusted that he couldn't do more to help her. The news editor of the TV channel, Newslive, has said that when it was clear that his reporter could not physically help the victim, he did the next best thing by recording the incident as evidence. This footage is the only reason that arrests are being made, he said.
Condemning the incident Home Minister P Chidambaram said he would talk to the Assam Chief Minister. "The Assam government should take action," he said. The minister also objected to the use of the phrase "rape capital" for Guwahati. He said, "I think it's in very poor taste to use phrases as rape capital. Every incident of molesting is condemnable. Such condemnable incidents happen all over the country."
Political leaders across parties have condemned the incident. The Congress' Renuka Choudhary called for strict punishment. BJP's Sushma Swaraj tweeted yesterday saying, "We will not let this go unpunished." Brinda Karat of the CPM said the cops should be punished for "dereliction of duty." Terming it a "shameful act", National Commission for Women Chairperson Mamta Sharma demanded life term for the culprits and alleged that the police was "shying away from responsibility."