Guwahati, July 13: Four of the 11 men who molested and stripped a teenaged girl outside a pub in here four days ago have been arrested, police said Friday, even as a known activist said the police was trying to shield the real culprits.
Police said all 11 have been identified and efforts are on to trace the seven other men involved in the crime Monday night.
But questions are being raised over the police’s tardiness in taking action on an incident that has sparked off a nationwide outrage.
The group molested and stripped the teenaged girl after she came out with her fiends from the restaurant-cum-bar Club Mint on the busy G.S. Road Monday night. Although she cried for help, no one initially came forward to help.
The clip of the girl being molested was also caught on camera and went viral on the internet.
Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader and Assam’s prominent anti-dam activist Akhil Gogoi said the police was trying to shield the real culprits.
“We are giving 48 hours to the 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 journalist of a Guwahati news channel as the main culprit.
“Police are now trying to divert the issue as the journalist, who was involved in the brawl that led to the molestation, works for a news channel run by a powerful minister in the Assam cabinet,” he said.
He also demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the incident. He said the police was 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 a.m.
“We have recorded the statement of the girl and registered a case against all those involved in the crime. We have identified all the culprits by checking the video footage captured by a local news channel,” said Additional Superintendent of Police (City) Longnit Teron.
“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.
He assured the angry people that all the culprits would be arrested soon.
The incident triggered massive reaction across the country. In Guwahati, outraged activists put up hoardings across the city with photographs of the 11 culprits and asked people to inform the police about their whereabouts.
“We have put up hoardings in some 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 the culprits to the book and to create an awareness so that such things do not occur in future,” said Avijit Sarma of the NGO Assam Public Works (APW).
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has expressed concern over the incident and said that a separate task force would be set up to deal with such crimes against women in Guwahati and other places in the state.
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 four days to make the arrests even though they had the video clip to go by.