"Mass molestation" in Bangalore on New Year's Eve blamed on western culture

An Indian state minister has blamed young people's fascination with western culture for "mass molestation" on New Year's Eve in the city of Bangalore in India.

Thousands had gathered on two of the city's main streets on Saturday night to ring in the new year, but the crowd soon started sexually assaulting and harrassing women, local newspapers reported.

The Bangalore Mirror said its photojournalists witnessed "the brazen, mass molestation of women" on the streets, with the headline, "Bengaluru's night of shame".

Bengaluru is the official name of Bangalore.

The paper published pictures of distressed women who had to be helped by female cops and male friends.

"Anarchy prevailed on the streets after 11pm as revellers gathered in the heart of the city - MG Road and Brigade Road - to welcome the New Year. But despite 'elaborate' security arrangements, women were molested, and children scared out of their wits, while male friends and relatives had a tough time protecting them from unruly men," reported the paper.

It said there were 1,500 policemen deployed to the area. Witnesses claimed the police did not intervene. Bangalore's police said they were severely outnumbered by the crowd, and no complaints about harrassment or sexual assault was lodged.

Mr G Parmeshwara, the home minister for Karnataka state, appeared to make light of the situation on Monday.

"These kinds of things do happen," he said to news agency ANI. "They tried to copy the westerners, not only in their mindset but even in their dressing," he said, referring to women who were there to celebrate the new year.

Mr Parameswara said Bangalore police will review and "see if there are any alternatives to this kind of events so that women and children are safe".

The Bangalore Mirror cited police statistics showing that 756 cases of sexual harrassment were registered last year, with 559 of them still under investigation.