As more and more Indians watch in hapless horror a video recording of a young woman being brutally pummelled and stripped by a large mob in Guwahati, many have asked - what did those who recorded the incident do to help the victim? Could they not have rescued her instead of rolling their camera to catch her humiliation?
Dipya Bordoloi, a reporter from Newslive - the local channel that recorded and first aired the video - says he arrived a little after the mob began molesting the girl. "It wasn't molestation, it was like gang-rape."he says.
He claims he tried to intervene. "Don't touch, don't touch her, I said, but the mob was growing. There were about 50 very angry people there." Since the mob was so violent, he says, he stepped back and asked the cameraman to roll camera. Apart from the men who pushed, dragged, beat and stripped the girl out on a busy main road with vehicles whizzing past, business as usual, Mr Bordoloi says there were many people who just stood and watched. "She was crying for help, but no one came forward," he said.
The reporter says he then asked the cameraman to catch the faces of the culprits. The mob, made up of drunk men, he said, tried to force the girl to show show her face to the camera. That evening, the channel aired only a part of the recording - where the girl was rescued after her 40-minute ordeal by police who arrived late though the nearest police station is only a kilometre away.
The next day the entire video was telecast and was also uploaded on YouTube. There, it went viral.
The faces of many of the assailants are clearly seen on camera. On the video, as the mob of chases, beats and strips the girl, it is clear no one nearby attempted to help her. She is thrown repeatedly to the ground as she resists. Her clothes are ripped off. Close-ups of the attackers' faces show no remorse, many wear a look of satisfaction. Some even smile as they look directly into the camera, almost performing for it. At one point, some of the attackers attempt to force the girl to look at the camera, chanting "show the face" in Assamese.
There is much outrage also because at one point the young girl identifies herself on camera and that portion was not edited out. There are places where her face can be seen but these were not digitally blurred before the video was uploaded on the Internet, compounding say many, the girl's humiliation.
The Managing Editor of Newslive, Syed Zarir Hussain, has strongly defended the decision to record and air the incident. "If we had shut our cameras, those arrested would have gone scot free," he told NDTV. His crew, he says, just as his reporter does, was outnumbered when it tried to help.