Three of the molesters were arrested on the basis of the video footage.
A minor girl was molested, groped at and beaten up by a mob for half an hour in full public glare in Guwahati on Monday night, and police have arrested three persons based on video footage put out by a television news crew that filmed the shocking incident.
The outrage happened on GS Road in the Christian Basti area of Guwahati. The girl, a class 11 student, was set upon by a group of young men when she was about to return home from a party in a city bar. Evidently, the girl had had an altercation with one of the men who had passed an obscene remark at her.
As a huge mob watched without making the slightest attempt to intervene, the 20-or-so men groped her, ripped off some of her clothes, beat her – and teased and taunted her for drinking. From eyewitness accounts, it appears that the mob molested her for about half an hour; some passersby appear to have joined in groping her.
A camera crew from Newslive, a local television station arrived at the scene, and filmed parts of the outrageous attack. (The two-part video is available here and here.)
After the video clips went viral on the Internet, police were forced into action. Over the course of two days – Wednesday and Thursday – they arrested three persons, whom they identified on the basis of the video footage, and are on the hunt for others who are absconding.
Newslive reported that one of the molesters (who is absconding) had been identified as Amar Jyoti Kalita, an employee of the state government-run IT agency Amtron. Authorities at Amtron had sacked Kalita and had filed an FIR against him, it added.
Kalita was identified by matching the video footage from the incident with his Facebook profile, where he had posted a photograph of himself, evidently from the night of the incident.
The fact that the television news crew filmed the molestation without intervening to help the girl gave rise to some criticism, but Atanu Bhuyan, editor-in-chief of Newslive, defended his team’s action by noting that they had helped to identify and arrest the culprits.
On his Twitter feed, Bhuyan said:
“Mainstream news channels are flooding me with phone calls asking for the footage of the molestation incident. Some of them questioned me as to why my reporter and camera person shot the incident and didn’t prevent the mob from molesting the girl. But I’m backing my team since the mob would have attacked them, prevented them from shooting, that would have only destroyed all evidence.”
Bhuyan further said: “My reporters informed the police, who saved the girl before it was too late.” His justification of his team’s action, he added, was “very simple. In case of a bomb blast, my reporters would have shot the visuals rather than donate blood.”
Had his team not not filmed the molestation incident, “the molesters would have been roaming scot-free,” he pointed out.
Assam Director General of Policy (DGP) Jayanto N Choudhury told CNN-IBN (here) that the video shot by the television crew had “provided vital evidence about the accused people”, on the basis of which a charge-sheet would be filed in the case.
According to the latest statistics put out by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Assam recorded the second highest rate of crimes against women – at 36.9 percent in 2011, only 0.1 percent behind Tripura, which topped the charts. (The rate of crimes against women is an index of the number of crimes against women for every one lakh population.)