The New Year celebrations in Bengaluru this time around were supposed to be different: the police assured Asianet Newsable that CCTVs and traffic restrictions would be in place at prominent locations for December 31. But all that the city, and in particular its women, got was a night of horror and shame.

 

The police essentially lost control of revelers at locations such as Brigade Road and MG Road close to midnight on December 31 and hooligans had a free-for-all, with several incidents of molestation and stalking of women reported.

 

 

Cops left clueless

 

Days before the celebrations, the police had announced about 1,500 personnel would be deployed to popular celebration spots. But the deployments provided woefully inadequate as women who were alone had to seek the protection of women police officers, who were too few in number. Eyewitnesses told the Bangalore Mirror that they saw crying women running for police protection, carrying their shoes in their hands even as motorcycle-borne eve teasers pursued them. The police were finally reduced to being expedient — dealing with situations based on their gravity.

 

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Traffic control measures also left much to be desired as restrictions at MG Road were openly flouted. Major flyovers in the city remained open till 10.30 PM even though the plan was to barricade them by 9.00 PM. The lack of police preparedness can be gauged from the fact that around 450 cases of drunken driving were registered on New Year’s Eve, while nearly 300 cases were registered in just the East subdivision the previous night, according to the Bangalore Mirror.

 

While a lot of people assume that the “degradation” of affairs in Bengaluru is a recent development, retired police officials and experts claim that chaos on New Year’s Eve has been a problem since the 1970s. This draws attention to the lackadaisical attitude of the government and police. In addition, businesses also have to bear a chunk of the blame: Media reports claim that the police relaxed the deadline for New Year celebrations for restaurants and pubs following pressure from commercial establishments.

 

Also read Bengaluru saw most number of crimes in 2016

 

The basics are ignored

Despite the mass shock of the events of December 31, the police claim that they had not registered a single case of molestation nor had they received any police control room messages on the issue. This points to a common problem across India: the difficulty of getting police to register a proper complaint under the relevant legal sections. Police statistics reported by the Bangalore Mirror show that 756 cases related to sexual harassment were filed in the city in 2016, higher than figures for the previous two years: worryingly, more than 550 of these are under investigation. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Bengaluru ranked third among Indian cities with the highest number of crimes against women in 2015.

 

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