BENGALURU: A 42-year-old woman working with an IT firm had a nightmarish experience in a temple in Banashankari, when a group of five unknown men sexually harassed her because she was wearing a pendant that signified she belonged to another community.
The woman was visiting Devagiri temple in Banashankari to offer prayers, when the group allegedly harassed her and touched her inappropriately on seeing the pendant in her chain. When she protested against their behaviour and questioned them, they manhandled her and escaped when she went to complain to the police.
However, it was not easy for her there either. She had to wait for more than six hours, and then get in touch with DCP (South) Rohini Katoch Sepat before she could get the FIR registered. According to the complaint filed by Pavitra (name changed), a resident of Banashankari III Stage, around 8.30am on October 25, she went to Devagiri temple and sat on a stone slab, listening to devotional music in the temple premises, while waiting for the Mahamangala Arati to be performed and get prasada after the puja.
Around 9.20am, she noticed a middle-aged man standing and staring at her. Pavitra didn’t pay attention to him. But after he left, around 10 minutes later, a group of four men came and stood in front of her and allegedly started teasing her. Pavitra alleged that the men made obscene gestures. “I panicked as it was happening in a sacred place, and I decided to leave. When I walked out of the temple, the group blocked my way and started arguing with me, saying I was staring at them.”
They reportedly asked her about the pendant she was wearing and why she had come to the temple when she belonged to another community. “It was only then I realized that the men were angry on seeing my pendant. I took out my phone to call the police, but they snatched it,” she said.
The middle-aged man who was earlier staring at her, then joined the group and began abusing her, besides allegedly manhandling her.
“When we returned to the temple, the group had escaped after giving my phone to someone there,” Pavitra said.
The police inquiry revealed that the accused were the secretary of the temple and other members of the temple trust. “I went to Banashankari police station but police summoned the accused and spoke to them casually. The police inspector told me he would first question them and then decide whether to register the FIR or not. In the evening, I approached the DCP and got the FIR registered,” she said.
However, the investigating officer said there was no delay, but that the inquiry took some time. A case was registered and investigations are on.