Bengaluru: Bengaluru Police Commissioner Praveen Sood said on Thursday they had not found any evidence or received any formal complaints of sexual assault at a New Year’s Eve celebration in Bengaluru after media reports of “mass molestation”, but had registered six separate cases based on the media coverage.
Sood said they had gone through hours of CCTV footage from the night in Bengaluru and had found no evidence to back up the reports.
“We started looking into the whole video footage from approximately 45-60 cameras,” Praveen Sood told journalists.
“It takes time, the whole team was looking at the camera footage and looking for molestation in the video. We could not find any sign of molestation,” Sood said.
In an interview with NDTV, the police chief also expressed his "strong objection" to the word "mass molestation", saying "In fact, it would be a great disservice".
"On December 31, police officers were there... about 20 media OB vans were there on MG road. No one reported anything on the January 1. And nowadays, if something wrong happens, it goes viral in a minute". He said even on January 1, when he was addressing the media, "no one raised the issue", he added.
Local reports featured testimony and photos of victims cowering from their attackers or fleeing for safety while video footage circulated on social media showed women screaming for help.
Police have referred to the interviews and social media accounts of eyewitnesses and women who were allegedly molested to file six separate cases, Sood said.
The attacks in Bengaluru have drawn comparison with last year’s mass sexual assaults at New Year’s celebrations in the German city of Cologne.
The state government of Karnataka has faced severe backlash over its handling of the incident, particularly after the Home Minister criticised the women for dressing “like westerners”.