In January, when HT broke the story of how two women got molested by a mob as they were leaving a Juhu hotel, everyone hoped it was an aberration.
Mumbai could not be this dangerous. Or so we liked to believe. But on Saturday, Mumbai proved once again that it’s no longer a city where women can step out safely, and our police action shows why so many women hesitate to complain. On Holi, eight to 10 hooligans molested two 13-year-old girls in the plush western suburb of Bandra.
The next day, after the girls’ families filed a police complaint, the teenagers were made to go to a slum with the police and identify the molesters as the entire slum looked on.
The two schoolgirls, were walking down Rebello Road, on their way to a friend’s place, when a group of Holi revellers cornered them. “The mob attacked our children like a pack of hungry wolves. They rubbed colour all over our girls and molested them,” said Andrew Williams (name changed on request), father of one of the girls. According to Williams, the two girls were walking with four boys their age when the mob caught hold of them.
The terrified girls tried running away, begging a watchman from one of the buildings for help. “But he did not do anything,” said S. Fernandes (name changed), mother of the other girl.
In fact, nobody helped, said the shocked parents. “The incident lasted for over five minutes and it took place on the road, but nobody came to help,” said Williams.
The girls escaped when they saw a police van and started running towards it. “When the hooligans saw our kids were running to the police, they fled,” he said. But not before molesting two other women passing by.
That was not the end of trauma for the two girls. On Sunday morning, the families went to Bandra police station and registered a complaint. “Our girls described four of the molesters to the police,” said Williams.
A few hours later, the police asked the girls and their parents to accompany them to a nearby slum. “They asked the girls to identify the molesters in front of the whole locality,” said Shiny Williams, mother of one of the girls.