Bengaluru police are on high alert, with over 15,000 cops ready to be deployed in the city on New Year’s Eve. The focus of this security arrangement has been on Brigade Road. In and around this 500 meter stretch 2,000 policemen, several drones and over 500 CCTV cameras will be deployed. This heavy deployment is because of the alleged mass molestations which took place on Brigade Road on New Year’s Eve in 2016.
The public outcry over allegations of this mass molestations caught international attention, however, the purported incident in Brigade Road was not proven. The same night, about seven km from the bustling Brigade Road, a CCTV in Kammanahalli’s residential colony caught two men on a bike molesting a woman. Police presence was concentrated in areas where partygoers frequent, so lanes like the one you see in this video, were left unsupervised.
With another night of revelry around the corner, the question is, will the residential areas of the city get as much security as the Central Business District (CBD)?
The Shocker in a Residential Area
The shocking incident in the Kammanahalli, a prominent residential area in East Bengaluru, came to light after Prashant Francis, a resident of Kammanahalli, came forward with the CCTV footage of the attack, days after the incident. “On 31 December night, we went to bed after returning from church. The next day, two girls came to my house, saying two people mugged them the night before, and they wanted to check the CCTV cameras,” he said.
The CCTV footage clearly showed two men on a scooter molesting a woman and dragging her down in a deserted lane in Kammanahalli in the wee hours of 1 January. Four men on two motorcycles waited at the end of the road, as the two men molested her.
Even though the survivor was hesitant to go to the police, Francis approached the police with the CCTV footage. In the investigation that followed, police arrested six men involved in the case. Even after the arrest, the survivor was not ready to identify the culprits. However, after much convincing, she agreed. “If it was not for the camera installed in the house, those men would have gotten away,” said an officer, who supervised the investigation.
Bengaluru Police filed the chargesheet against the six accused in the Kammanahalli molestation case in March. The 164-page chargesheet provides details regarding the course of investigation in the case, and how the accused have admitted to their crime. The chargesheet includes statements of 32 witnesses. The prime witness is Prashant Francis, owner of the house where the CCTV camera was installed.
Focus Back on Brigade Road
Close to an year after the incident, ahead of the New Year’s celebration, the discussions are back on providing further security to Brigade Road, because of allegation of unproven “mass molestation”. “Yes, there is a special focus on the Brigade Road in 2017, due to the allegations of last year. We have added 500 more policemen, compared to last year for Brigade Road and areas nearby. We will not let anyone misbehave here,” said senior IPS officer.
However, the policemen deployed for the rest of the city hasn’t increased as compared to 2016. Unlike the Brigade Road, where activity remains till late at night, many residential areas where revellers return to, are deserted. Even though the attention was on CBD, the two incidents, with proof of sexual assault, were reported in residential areas and not in the CBD.
We Have Increased Patrolling: Police Commissioner
When asked about the disadvantages of the special focus on Brigade Road, City police commissioner T Suneel Kumar said that police have devised a plan to increase patrolling across the city.
“We have 270 dedicated patrolling vehicles in the city. Apart from these, we have sourced additional 250 four-wheelers and 250 two-wheelers to patrol all the areas coming under each police station constantly. We believe that with an increased police presence, we will be able to remove any unwanted elements from the streets,” he said.
Citizen Groups Pooled in
Close to 2,000 policemen will be deployed around Brigade Road and others deployed across the city. Police have asked the citizen groups in the city to join them in keeping a watch on the residential areas. “We have held meetings with citizens policing groups in each police station to join us in the security arrangements this year. If not, then join us in patrols. We have asked to provide information about any developments in the respective localities. We are confident that they will be a force multiplier,” he added.
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