Multiple times over the last few months, the students of Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru were greeted with a pathetic sight: A man, presumed to be a journalist because of the 'PRESS' sticker on his bike, would flash his penis at them as they walked past him.
Sick and tired of the harassment, ten of the students decided to holler back: The students got hold of the offender, dragged the man to the High Grounds police station on Saturday, and filed a written complaint against him.
‚ÄúThe college girls park their scooters on Loop Road and Vijesh would come in a black two-wheeler and flash the girls there. On Saturday, 10 girls submitted a written complaint stating that they had seen him flashing them on multiple occasions. He has a ‚ÄėPress‚Äô sticker on his scooter, so students assumed he is a journalist,‚ÄĚ an officer with the High Grounds Police told TNM.
Vijesh reportedly used to work in the advertising department of a Malayalam newspaper according to the police, but had quit his job recently.
‚ÄúIn the last few months, many complaints have come in about a man on a two-wheeler flashing girls on Loop Road. Many times, before the police could reach the spot, he fled. We had stepped up patrolling in the area and when the call came in on Saturday, we immediately arrested Vijesh,‚ÄĚ the officer added.
The incident was first reported by Bangalore Mirror. The police told TNM that based on multiple calls received from students over the past few months, there seemed to be two offenders.
‚ÄúSome of the complaints were about a young man on a white scooter, while others have seen a man on a black scooter. He seems to be in his early thirties and wears glasses,‚ÄĚ the officer said.
The High Grounds Police are examining CCTV footage from surrounding areas to confirm if the man on the black scooter was Vijesh, and if he had flashed other groups of students as well.
‚ÄúUpon questioning, he said that flashing unknown women gave him pleasure. His relative came on Sunday and got him bail. He has a wife and child in Kerala,‚ÄĚ the officer added.
Vijesh has been booked under sections 354(A) (sexual harassment) and 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.
But while legal action is being taken against Vijesh, students say that he‚Äôs neither the first nor the only such offender.
An undergraduate student studying in Mount Carmel told TNM that she has been flashed by multiple men on multiple occasions.
‚ÄúDuring the second half of my first year, I started coming to college on my scooter. I had gone out with a few friends after college and decided to pick up my scooter later. When I came back with a classmate of mine to get my scooter back, we saw a man lurking near the parked bikes. I did not realise what he was doing initially, but then he was flashing us. We just got onto my scooter and left the place,‚ÄĚ Sunita* said.
‚ÄúOver the past two years, I have seen many men flash their private parts. This keeps happening a lot near our college because it is a women‚Äôs institution. As far as I know, this is the first time someone has been arrested. The police are very slow in responding and in some cases, the girls do not file complaints for various reasons. Some do not want their parents to know, or have other reasons,‚ÄĚ Sunita added.
Another student, who used to live across the college campus, said that many such incidents happen after college hours in the evening. ‚ÄúMy friend was walking down the road around 6.30 in the evening when someone flashed her. Sometimes, men even follow us. They don‚Äôt have any shame and open their pants publicly. Lot of the students who live near the campus face this problem,‚ÄĚ says Sudha, a Masters student at the college.
While the incidents continue to happen despite increased patrolling by the police, the officers in the area say that this case is different.
"The students who filed the complaint are willing to go to court. If he is found guilty and a conviction happens, he may be looking at three years in prison,‚ÄĚ the officer said.