Police stop ‘slut walk’ under threat of backlash

Bengaluru was about to have its first Slut Walk – rechristened ‘Gejje Hejje’ – on Sunday, December 4. The walk was to protest against victim blaming in cases of sexual assault, wherein women are held responsible for inviting assault by "dressing provocatively", travelling at night etc.

But not only were they not allowed to hold the walk, a few who had dared to assemble at the venue were arrested by the Bengaluru police. Police had given permission for the walk earlier, but cancelled it on short notice – on Saturday night, bowing to threats from right wing groups.

Pic: Navya P K.

About 10 youth had gathered at Town Hall on Sunday, some not knowing that the event was cancelled. The organisers had decided to leave the venue and go to Press Club to hold a press meet, when they were arrested.

The arrest was for ‘unlawful assembly’, said DCP G Ramesh, who was in charge at the venue. "About five-six right wing groups had told us that they would create problems during the walk. They did not want something named ‘slut walk’. It would create a law and order problem, so we cancelled the permission," says Ramesh. He did not give details as to which groups had made the threats.

Speaking to Citizen Matters, ACP Suneel Kumar defended the decision. "They were all young girls and boys. It was not a matter of not providing security, we just did not want a scene to be created there." Kumar also confirmed that threats were received from people opposed the slut walk, but declined to disclose specifics.

In the group’s Facebook page ‘Slutwalk Bangalore’, one of the organisers Dhillan Mowli writes that ACP Suneel Kumar informed about groups like BJP, RSS and Sri Ram Sene aggressively protesting against the walk.

Police’s cancellation of permission issued for Slut Walk.

The group has been active on social media, inviting public to join the walk. They have also been holding events over the last month as precursor to the walk.

By 10.30 a.m – when the walk was scheduled to start – about 10 youth had assembled at Town Hall. About 50 police officials were at the venue to prevent the gathering.

Aqseer Sodhi, one of the organisers, said that on Saturday night she had also received a threatening call from a right wing group. "The cancellation was at short notice, hence we could not inform everyone", added Aqseer.

Another organiser Vikram Hemanathan said that it was the duty of police to provide protection from the groups who made threats. "The point of the walk itself was that citizens should get protection from threats of right wing groups. Police has to give us a solid answer on this. We will make the walk happen – if not today, then some other day."

Police took Aqseer and Hemanathan into custody at about 11 a.m, when they were about to leave the venue after fixing details for a press meeting. Some youngsters who tried to run away were chased by the police and arrested.

"They did not leave even after we asked them to. Now they are in custody and there will be some procedure before they are allowed to go," said Ramesh. When asked why they were arrested as they were about to leave, Ramesh said that it was as per procedure, and did not comment further.

"Nine volunteers were taken into custody by the police and later released from the Sadashivnagar Police Station", said Radhika Chitkara in a press release issued on Sunday afternoon.

About Navya P K 241 Articles
Navya P K is a former senior staff journalist at Citizen Matters, and a freelance journalist based in Kerala.

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