The Bengaluru Police arrested at least six people on Tuesday for allegedly tying up a group of students aged between 10 and 13 to a tree on a government school campus and forcing them to smoke beedis, NDTV reported.
The arrests were made after a video of the incident was widely shared on social media.
One of the accused, 18-year-old Vivek, is in judicial custody while other persons have been booked under various sections of the Juvenile Justice Act and Indian Penal Code, according to The Indian Express.
“We have detained all six members including an 18-year-old mechanic and are investigating the incident,” said Whitefield Division Deputy Commissioner of Police D Devaraj. “We will increase patrolling in the area especially near schools, playgrounds and parks.”
The video was brought to the notice of Bengaluru Whitefield Division Police by former corporator of Devasandra ward S Srikanth. “These horrifying incidents are happening in the area and schools are not safe,” he said. “The police should immediately start patrolling near the schools often to stop this kind of incident.”
Block Education Officer Bangalore South D Hanumantraya said that the clips of children being tortured were recorded on Saturday. “The school was closed at 11.30 am,” he said. “After that, around late noon, some students came to play [at the grounds] when the incident took place.”
The accused persons forced the children to buy beedis from nearby shops for them, according to NDTV. Several of the arrested persons worked at nearby factories.
“When these children refused to buy beedis from a store, the gang made them sit on the floor barefoot,” Srikanth said, according to The Times of India. “They were beaten up with a stick on their feet and neck. Many children have burn marks on their neck, hand, wrist, and palm.”
Whitefield Division Deputy Commissioner of Police D Devaraj also said that they had received information on people drinking liquor on the school campus, NDTV reported.
Srikanth added that the consumption of weed in Bengaluru’s Whitefield areas had increased in recent times, NDTV reported. “It seems they [the accused persons] used to consume ganja as well,” he said. “Both the victims and the accused persons are from this area.”