As many as six people have been arrested by the Assam Police after a group of 42 dancers was molested in Chaygaon in Assam’s Kamrup district on 7 June.
The dance group comprising of 120 dancers (both boys and girls) from a town near Guwahati was invited to perform in Chamaria town on 7 June and was told that it would be a Bihu programme.
However, once they started performing, the crowd of as many as 700 people allegedly asked the female dancers to strip. When the dancers did not agree to do so, the crowd not only chased them but also assualted them physically, reported The Indian Express.
Manager: ‘Knew Something Was off’
The dance group manager got a call from Sanjoy Choudhry on the afternoon of 7 June, who further connected him to a man named Kuddas Ali. The latter invited them to perform at Chamaria on the same night and offered them a payment of Rs 37,000. The group, along with one more dance group, left for Chamaria at 8 pm on 7 June.
“When we reached the designated spot, we saw that there was nothing happening there. Kuddas Ali then called us and guided us to a more ‘remote’ location. We followed,” the manager said.
While entering a closed space made of a tin roof, he could sense something wrong. “Some men then pushed the girls to the stage and said ‘dance’. I knew something was off but the crowd was so big and it was intimidating. So I asked my group to start dancing,” he said.
When the group started performing, the crowd demanded a ‘disco’ performance. One of the men went on to show a video of a strip dance on his phone to the the manager. The manager asked the group to keep calm even though they were outnumbered by the crowd. Meanwhile, he alerted the police about the incident.
By then, the crowd had already started touching the girls and pulled their clothes. “They were in the mood to attack, many of the girls started crying. In the meantime, I managed to break a bit of the tin enclosure and we ran for our lives,” said the manager.
The group managed to enter the car and escaped, after being chased by the crowd.
“They were literally chasing us on the road and we had to run for our lives. We finally locked ourselves in the car before driving,” the manager said.
“Most of the girls, college students between the ages of 17 and 18, are still in shock. They are trying to come to terms with what happened that night,” the manager said, as quoted by The Indian Express.
The FIR filed by the group manager at Chaygaon police station on 8 June states that group later understood that the organisers of the event, while collecting money, had told the crowd that they had called a troop of strip dancers from West Bengal’s Cooch Behar to perform.
Rupam Hazarika, in-charge of Chaygaon police station said that the police does not know who organised the event and that the investigation is in process. He further added that they were informed about the incident on the night of 7 June. Consequently, they rushed to rescue the dancers, but by the time the police reached the location, it was too late, reported The Indian Express.
Following the FIR, the people who have been arrested till now are Shahrukh Khan, Subhan Khan, Rehmat Ali, Nizamuddin, Attiqul Islam and Sanjoy Choudhry.
On 11 June, several organisations including the All Rabha Students’ Union, the All Assam Students’ Union and school and college students participated in a rally condemning the incident.
State Social Welfare Minister Pramila Rani Brahma in Assam Government on 12 June condemned the incident.
“I had conducted a meeting with the State Women Commission and DGP. I condemn this incident and assure that immediate action will be taken. These incidents keep happening from time to time repeatedly, being a women I am shaken by this and I assure you we will take steps to sanitise our society,” ANI quoted Brahma as saying.
Brahma further asserted that the culprits will be punished and acknowledged the need of educating people to avoid such incidents in the future. NGOs will be incorporated to do the same, she added.
BJP MLA Shiladitya Dev held illegal Bangladeshi immigrants responsible for the incident.
Dev condemned the incident and reportedly said, “The demographical change in the state due to the influx of Bangladeshi Muslims is a real problem in the state. Many of the illegal immigrants' name came in the NRC draft which has given them a political right to display their 'dadagiri' to the Assamese people.”
Furthermore, he said that never had it happened before that Assamese girls had to strip forcibly in a cultural program and strict action should be taken to ensure security of the citizens.
The National Commission for Women, too has taken cognizance of the incident.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and ANI)
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