A two-member team of the women and child development ministry probing the attack on women in a Mangalore pub has said in its report that they were “indeed molested without provocation" and blamed the administration.
The two-member team, which conducted a probe into the Jan 24 incident after it was dissatisfied with the report submitted by the National Commission of Women (NCW), submitted its report to Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury Friday.
"I have submitted the report to the minister (Renuka Chowdhury). We found that the girls were indeed molested without provocation," joint secretary Kiran Chadha, who led the team, told IANS.
Activists of a self-styled pro-Hindu moral brigade called Sri Rama Sene barged into a pub in the coastal city of Mangalore, 350 km from here, on Jan 24. They thrashed the young girls, dragged them by their hair and molested them for "violating traditional Indian norms".
Following outrage over the incident, at Amnesia - The Lounge, the ministry sent its team on Feb 1 as it was unhappy with NCW member Nirmala Venkatesh's findings.
Venkatesh, who absolved the miscreants and blamed the pub security for the incident, is now facing flak from the ministry and the commission.
She said in her report that the pub did "not have enough security" and said that "women have to safeguard themselves". She also shifted the probe focus to whether or not the pub had the licence to serve liquor.
The two-member team, which spent two days gathering information, however, gave a clean-chit to the pub's security.
"The pub is inside a hotel in the heart of the city. The local pub had bouncers but nobody can deal with a mob of 40 people. The matter is not of the hotel's security but an issue of administration," Chadha said.
She said the girls heard the mob outside and "presumed it was a riot".
"When they fled, they were beaten, pushed around, pulled by their hair and were molested," she said, adding that a report should have ideally come from the Karnataka government.
"The ministry has not seen any report from the state government. Law and order is a state subject - so they should ensure that girls are safe. Not just girls, even boys should be safe when they step out into the city," Chadha said.
When asked about the involvement of the Sri Ram Sene, Chadha said it was difficult to prosecute them because of "political religious and various other reasons".
"A decision regarding the matter would be taken once the minister sees our report," Chadha said.
The NCW has distanced itself from Venkatesh's remarks and dubbed her report "null and void". Late Thursday night, the ministry served her a notice.
"Your acts are unbecoming of a member of the National Commission for Women. These are detrimental to public interest. You are required to explain your conduct and why action should not be taken against you for dereliction of duty," said a letter to Venkatesh.