In a horrifying incident, a group of 20 men in Assam's capital Guwahati molested and assaulted a teenage girl outside a bar on Monday night, after the girl was drawn into an argument over an obscene comment shot at her for drinking.
The victim, whose identity remains undisclosed, was beaten, slapped, and stripped in public during the assault that lasted over 30 minutes. The incident has left the whole nation shocked, and the people of Assam are enraged over the shameful act.
The incident occurred when the girl of class 11 was returning home from a party at a city bar located in Christian Basti area in Guwahati. The girl allegedly had an argument with one of the men, after which a mob began beating and molesting her.
Monday's incident came to light only after the act was caught on video and uploaded on YouTube. The video footage shows 20 men brutally beating the girl, while the huge crowd, that gathered close, made no attempt to interfere and protect the girl from the mob.
Police rescued the girl and handed her over to her parents. However, no arrests were made on that night. After the video went viral on social networking sites, police and government authorities were forced to take action against those accused.
On the basis of the video footage, police have arrested four people. Eyewitnesses have also identified 12 others involved in the incident.
The four arrested have been charged under Indian Penal Code Section 341 (wrongful restraint), Section 143 (unlawful assembly), Section 294 (obscene act), Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), and Section 354 (assault or criminal force on a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty).
One of those arrested is identified as Amar Jyoti Kalita, who is a contractual employee of Amtron, Assam government's IT agency. Kalita, who also calls himself as Bond on Facebook, was said to have acted in an Assamese serial.
The other two arrested are identified as Dhananjoy Basfor, a sweeper in a hospital and Bubul Das, who is a local tradesman, said police.
The victim's mother has also filed a complaint with police authorities.
A reporter from a local TV channel, Newslive, shot the video and claimed he was beaten up by the same mob for intervening. He then alerted the police, and in the meantime, recorded the incident. The fact that the reporter shot the incident gave rise to criticism from across the nation.
The editor-in-chief of Newslive Atanu Bhuyan defended the reporter's act and said, "Had we not shot the incident, the molesters would have been roaming scot-free."
"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 tweeted on Twitter page on Friday.
"My reporters informed the police, who saved the girl before it was too late. My justification is all very simple. In case of a bomb blast, my reporters would have shot the visuals rather than donate blood," he justified his statement.
"Many people r criticising us for shooting the molestation incident. But let me tell them asserts have been made only because of the visuals," he added.
Assam Director General of Policy (DGP) Jayanto N Choudhury told CNN-IBN news channel that the video shot served as vital evidence on those accused on the basis of which the charge sheet would be filed.