Guwahati girl molestation: Hunt on for other accused

It has been five days since a teenage girl was stripped and groped by a group of men for more than half-an-hour on a busy road in Guwahati.

Zeenews Bureau

Guwahati: Five days after a teenage girl was stripped and groped by a group of men for more than half-an-hour on a busy road here, police have yet to nab all the accused. So far, only four of the 11 men have been nabbed.

A video clip of the incident shown on TV had sparked national outrage as police were accused of tardy action.

Police said all 11 have been identified and efforts are on to trace the others involved in the crime that took place on Monday night.

The 17-year-old was with another girl when she left the Club Mint on the busy GS Road at about 9.30 pm on Monday. She was looking for an auto, when the men accosted her. The other girl managed to escape.

The teen`s cries for help fell on deaf ears till senior journalist Mukul Kalita, who happened to pass by, stopped the men and rescued her with the help of police who by then had arrived on the scene.

A video clip of the girl being molested was caught on camera and went viral on the net. The clip was aired on local channels Tuesday morning, causing outrage and horror across the country.

Outraged activists put up hoardings across Guwahati with photographs of the 11 culprits and asked people to inform police about their whereabouts.

"We have put up hoardings in prominent places and at all the bus stops in the city. The basic objective of putting the photographs of the culprits is to help police to bring them to book and to create awareness so that such things do not occur in future," said Avijit Sarma of NGO Assam Public Works.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader and Assam`s prominent anti-dam activist Akhil Gogoi accused police of trying to shield the real culprits.

"We are giving 48 hours to police to arrest the real culprits. We have gathered the video footage of the incident that led to the incident and we are going to submit it to the director general of police for prompt action," said Gogoi.

Gogoi named a Guwahati journalist as the main culprit. He also demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the incident, and charged police with trying to divert the issue.

Meanwhile, several civil society organisations said they would take to the streets of Guwahati Sunday to protest against the incident.

KMSS, Nirjatita Nari Oikya Mancha, Prithivi and several other groups will take out a rally at 11 am.

Additional Superintendent of Police (City) Longnit Teron said the girl`s statement had been recorded and a case registered against all those involved in the crime.

"We have identified all the culprits by checking the video footage captured by a local news channel," he said.

"Four of them have already been arrested and search is on to trace the rest. However, it is taking little time as most of the accused seem to have gone underground due to non-stop media coverage of the incident," Teron added, assuring that all the culprits would be arrested soon.

The incident triggered massive reaction across the country.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has expressed concern over the incident and said a separate task force would be set up to deal with crimes against women.

He set up a single-member inquiry commission comprising Additional Chief Secretary Emily Choudhury and asked it to submit a report within 15 days. He also asked police to take strict action against those found guilty.

The administration is also planning a crackdown on bars and other such establishments which are open till late night, violating government guidelines.

But that is too little too late, said activists, questioning why the police took so long to reach the spot and why it took them so many days to make the arrests even though they had the video clip to go by.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram termed the incident "condemnable" and said that he will ask the Assam chief minister what action he plans to take.

A team from the National Commission for Women will also arrive in the state from New Delhi Saturday to take stock of the situation.

Condemning the incident and crimes against women, women`s rights activist Manorama Bawa told IANS: "It is a very wrong thing that is happening, and the people are not being punished… they are being released on bail."

Bawa, former president of the All India Women`s Conference, said: "We have requested the National Commission for Women for stricter laws. All this violence that is happening should end."

(With IANS inputs)

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