A video of male passengers being slapped around by angry women after they entered a women-only compartment in the New Delhi underground has been viewed over 100,000 times on YouTube
. Some viewers think the incident was especially staged for cameras.
The incident occurred on November 26 at a station in Guargon, 30 km south of New Delhi.The footage shows several men barge into a subway train, ignoring the large pink “women-only” sign above the door. Once inside, they are slapped around and heckled by several women before being shoved out by police (although it is unclear from Indian news reports whether the agents are subway guards
or state police
.) They are then forced to crouch down on the ground with their hands on their heads, a punishment usually reserved for naughty children in India.
The Delhi underground inaugurated
women-only compartments on October 2, 2010, following repeated complaints from female passengers appalled by the staring, groping and eve-teasing they were subjected to in trains, particularly during peak hours.
The beating incident got mixed responses
from Web viewers who saw the video. Some thought the men had no business trying to ride in a women-only compartment, and got what they deserved. Others were outraged that police physically abused the trespassing men instead of imposing the planned 200 rupee [3,35 euros] fine
for the offence. And several raised the question: were the women who slapped the men really passengers? And did someone just “happen” to film the scene? We asked our Observers what they thought.
“Indian police sometimes stage stunts like this before the media to show that they are not indolent”
Arpan Banerjee is a media lawyer in New Delhi.
Indian police sometimes stage stunts like this before the media to show that they are not indolent. I suspect that a few journalists were informed about this because there are flashes when the men are brought onto the platform, and the policewomen seem to be glancing in the direction of the flashes. Also, between 0:50 and 0:53 I can see a professional still camera. In the case of this footage, I personally think that the camera man is a pro [editor’s note: at times, the footage seems too smooth to be shot by an amateur] but the camera is amateur. It's quite possible that the police did not want a huge TV crew on the platform.”
"I think the beating was a good thing, it might teach these men to treat women with respect"
Abhishek Khanna lives in New Delhi. He writes for the blog The Furorbiker
Women-only compartments are very necessary in Delhi. The subway is much too crowded at peak hours, and some men take advantage of the situation to touch women in a disrespectful manner. Giving women their own space was a very good decision. When the women-only compartments were inaugurated, there were big announcements and a lot of media coverage, so everyone knows men are not supposed to go in. The men who still do so are blatantly breaking the law, trying to be macho and bullying the women into not saying anything. I think the beating was a good thing, it might teach them to treat women with respect.
No-one knows who shot this video, but most people think it was taken by some passenger. What is more obvious is that the women beating the men look like plain clothes police officers. They are too rough to be students or women going to the office. They keep their hair short or tied up, and look disciplined and accustomed to hitting people. I believe they were women police posted in the compartment to protect the passengers.”
Video posted on YouTube by amitsheshma. From 0'32, the same scene is shot with a different camera. This footage shows women in the rest of the compartment watching the action and smiling.
Post written with France 24 journalist Lorena Galliot.