​They came, they groped, they left.

They came, they were groped, they left.

And now, a game is on. Over enthusiastic journalists are just doing their job of creating a hype making the issue seem more grave than it is. Random ‘experts’ sitting in Delhi and Mumbai are discussing how unsafe Bengali has become for women. Less significant politicians are being asked for an opinion so that we can add fuel to the fire. Incapable ministers are thinking out of their bums and assuring that no one will be spared. 

I’m trying to make some sense of whatever has been reported till now about the ‘mass molestation’ incident that happened during the New Year revelry in Bengaluru. A number of questions are being asked and statements are being made by different people as a post-mortem of the incident is being carried out. But, how valid are those questions? Are we being reasonable when we ask a few things..? Have we asked all the right questions? Where are we as a society? Let’s take a look.

When something of this kind happens, cops are the obvious target for anyone. Politicians, journalists, activists and general public have always loved to point fingers at the men-in-khaki.
For decades, Bengaluru’s cops had chosen the path of low risks by terminating the revelry close to midnight. They have been successful in controlling accidents and crime-rates this way. But, the revellers always had a crib – that Bengaluru’s nightlife ends before it starts. The cops have experimented over the last few years and allowed the party to go on till 1 AM everyday. Over time, I’ve seen them take stringent measures to ensure no untoward incident happens in the city. After the Church Street bomb blast last year, they have been even more careful. They need to be appreciated for their efforts. 

1500 cops, some of them female officers, were deployed in M.G.Road area in order to control the crowd on New Year’s eve. Metal detectors were in place. Barricades were used as per needs. Entry points and exit points were reduced in order to handle the crowd. “Security” was in place. And that’s where I’ll raise the first question.

What is security according to cops?

Security is not lathi-charging. Security is not just about placing metal detectors to prevent people carrying guns and nuclear weapons from having a drink in Peco’s. Deploying 1500 random policemen is not security. Apparently, that was what it meant on the fateful night. But, that’s not the kind of security that place required. 

Putting all the rotten eggs in one small basket isn’t a good thing to do. Funneling lakhs of people arriving on one small and narrow road by making them walk through metal detectors is not good crowd management. It just leads to chaos and the crowd starts pushing after a while. People are left with no choice but to brush shoulders and ‘manage’ to get out of the crowd. For our ‘Dushasans’, the entire setup turns into heaven. We really need to learn better ways of managing crowd. 

The cops do need to sanitize the place and look for bombs hidden under jackets and inside trousers. At the same time, they need to plan the crowd in a better manner. The area cordoned off for traffic should be increased. There should be more roads for people to walk freely on. Zones have to be created in a manner where a zone can be blocked once it is full. It’s serve the cops better if they select a few thousands and train them in crowd management course. The ‘security’ arrangements they make may suit a cricket match in Chinnaswamy Stadium but not M.G.Road on New Year’s eve.

To be continued..