News headlines

Courtesy: Shadab Khan / Midday

Mumbai, Jan 3: On New Year’s Eve, I was supposed to click pictures of revellers at the Gateway of India, but what I witnessed instead has left me shaken.

11.58 pm

A young woman was groped by some 60 perverts in plain public view, while her male friend, who tried to protect her, was pushed aside violently.

The 10 harrowing minutes the helpless woman cried for help as the perverts abused her, shook my faith in the city I have lived in all my life. I thought such things happened only in Delhi. I was clearly wrong. 

I was at the place at 11.35 pm with my camera, taking pictures that captured the mood of the New Year celebrations. I was atop the temporary watchtowers erected by the cops.

After a few minutes, as the crowd grew larger, I could vaguely make out a youth aged around 25, surrounded by a mob of around 60 to 70 people.

Pic 1: The crowd pounces on the girl even as her friend (in striped shirt) tries to protect her
Pic 2: The perverts tore off her dress in the middle of the teeming crowd

11.59 pm
When I zoomed in, I saw the girl of about the same age being groped by the crowd.

The girl was screaming for help but her voice was drowned in the commotion. Her companion tried to shield her but found himself helpless.

The presence of 50-odd policemen at the site did not deter them. Even as she cried pitifully, I saw them pull at her dress, leaving it torn from below the waist.

In the middle of this pushing and shoving, the girl fell down. The wild men, taking advantage of her, pounced on her with even more venom. After an agonizing 10 minutes, the two managed to extricate themselves from the crowd and leave the venue.

A few metres away I saw a middle-aged saree-clad woman being groped. Mercifully, police escorted her away before the situation got worse.
Ironically, Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil had visited the site only minutes before the first incident. I later checked with the Colaba police station and found that no police complaint was lodged.

Police speak

PSI Umesh Kadam, who was on duty at Colaba police station on the night expressed surprise and said, “Nobody filed a complaint with us. We haven’t received a report about any such incident. I have been on duty in the police station the whole night.”


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