New Year’s eve turned out to be harrowing for some of those out celebrating on the streets of Bengaluru that night.
Women bore the brunt of the riotous crowd in the central Bengaluru areas of MG Road, Brigade Road and Church Street. Reports said some of the revellers shouted lewd remarks, harassed and even molested women on the streets who rushed to policemen on duty for help and support until they could get safe transport home.
“By midnight, the shouts of happy new year turned to help me,“ says K Anantha Subramanyam, a photographer for the Bangalore Mirror who was witness to the scenes of women in anguish.
“We were a group of three boys and six girls. We were waiting for our cab, but so many rowdies were passing lewd remarks that we sought out policemen and stood near uniformed cops till our cab came. We were clearly outnumbered so didn’t want to take any chances by questioning the drunk men, ” said Tejasvi Mahadev, a city resident who was on Church Street.
There were no senior, police officials in the spot and the others on deployment were in certain pockets, not spread across the region, he says. Constables stood by helplessly, realising they too were outnumbered as this year saw unprecedented crowds on the streets.
A girl who was at church street for new year celebrations said, “People got out of the clubs around 1 or 1:30 am and it was chaotic, lot of crowd was on the streets. I felt it was unsafe as drunk men were all around us. I had male friends who had accompanied me but the drunk men outnumbered them. We went in search for cops so that we feel safe. Even in front of cops those drunk men kept eve teasing women and trying to touch them, nothing was done as police stood silent spectators.”
Some inebriated men who tried to ride bikes fell down on the road and were picked up much later by policemen. Since bars and restaurants were open till 1 pm to usher in the new year, police struggled till 3 pm to bring things under control and disperse the crowds.
This happened despite the extra deployment of police personnel and other precautionary measures such as shutting flyovers to traffic to prevent unruly bike riders from trying stunts.
“I had not taken charge as commissioner till 1st January. Also, there is not a single complaint so what can I comment,” said Praveen Sood, who has taken over as Bengaluru Police Commissioner.