Mangalore: A young girl or girls being viciously manhandled, slapped, their hair pulled, their clothes pulled away - all by a group of men who think they have the right to attack those who cannot fight back. A denial of a woman's rights and blatant violation of the law. All recorded by cameras that happen to be mysteriously present when the assault took place. And put on air for an outraged - or voyeuristic - public to see. These are images that have become horribly familiar.
The pictures out of Mangalore on Saturday night fit that pattern, right down to the mindless justification of the act as one meant to curb immorality.
It was Guwahati recently, Mangalore itself some years ago. The location may vary. The crime is the same. Women held violently accountable for their actions and the way they dress.
This time in Mangalore, the attack happened at a party at a private residence on the outskirts of the city. The video footage screened on local channels show a group of men forcing their way into a room where some young girls are cowering. They are pushed and shouted at. One of the girls, sitting on a bed is slapped - she falls back. Another tries to cover herself from the camera. They move towards each other in distress. Another girl is seen trying to run away.
A young man from the house appears and is also manhandled.
For a while, before police resorted to a mild lathicharge, things looked as if they could get worse as a crowd gathered outside the house. Finally, eight of the attackers were arrested at the end of the nightmarish evening.
Additional Director General (ADG) Bipin Gopalakrishna who flew to Mangalore to take charge of the situation said, "13 of them gathered at a house in Padil at around 6:30 pm to celebrate the birthday of a student. A group of 15-20 people entered the house, assaulted the inmates and took away jewellery. After the assault was recorded by some local TV channels, they left the scene."
"Rumour circulated in the neighbourhood that a rave party was going on inside the house. When the crowd didn't allow students to go back home, police had to resort to a mild lathicharge. After the crowd was dispersed, a case was registered against the assailants and eight of them have been arrested," ADG Gopalakrishna added.
The home minister has said that the guilty would be punished and that nobody had the right to assault women.
The presence of more than one camera during the attack - and the relay of the shocking footage almost immediately on local channels raises questions similar to those debated after the Guwahati mob attack on a girl coming out of a pub - which was also filmed. Are media houses, in the name of covering an event, actually playing into the hands of people who are essentially criminals? The police have indicated that the role of the Kannada channels in the whole episode will be investigated.
Story first published:
July 29, 2012 18:15 IST