The alleged assault on a 32-year-old Manipuri playwright by a traffic constable here on Wednesday has kept internet forums and social media abuzz, with many expressing outrage over the incident and others narrating their experiences, insecurities and fears.
Netizens shared links to news articles on the incident and spoke up against the perceived callousness of police authorities. Many demanded immediate legal action against the traffic constable as well as the bystanders who abused the woman.
An online petition started by the victim’s friend on Avaaz.org to be submitted to the Chief Minister and the Police Commissioner speaks of seeking legal action. About 600 persons had signed the petition by Saturday night expressing their support for the victim and, more importantly, to address the larger issue about how safe the city is for women.
The victim was driving home from work when a speeding motorcycle rear-ended her car at the traffic junction on DVG Road at Basavanagudi in Bangalore South. When she approached a traffic constable after being verbally abused by the rider and a group of passersby, the constable allegedly grabbed her by her shoulders and pushed her aside even as the mob allegedly groped her.
The petition said: “When the police turn perpetrators it renders the system impotent. Joining a mob and assaulting a lone woman, allowing an offender to get away and watching a woman being heckled by a mob is not merely negligence of duty but a sign that there is larger malaise in our society. It is about time we take action and demand a safe environment for women and minorities who are constantly threatened by both lumpen elements in society as well as by the police who are there to protect them.”
Speaking to The Hindu, the victim said she had received overwhelming support from her theatre community. “I am getting unconditional support even from people who I do not know. The reason I want to stand up for this is because it addresses the larger context of how the streets are for women and shows the hostility against women drivers. I want to follow this up because it throws light on the shrinking space for women in Bangalore,” she said. However, she expressed disappointment that the police had not been informing her about any development in the investigation.
Referring to the incident, one such online supporter Deepthi Shekhar, a teacher, said such incidents were happening to a lot of people. Several people have faced similar incidents and the mob is generally not supportive of the victim. However, none of the media reports has taken the constable’s version and there is a need to give a fair chance to him as well. “I signed the petition as several such cases are not reported and need to be highlighted,” she said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) H.S Revanna said the police could not comment until the probe was completed.