Karnataka Home Minister G Parmeshwara on Monday blamed “western ways” among youngsters for the widespread street harassment of women on December 31 in the Bengaluru. He said that it was not uncommon for crowds of women to be molested in the city on Christmas and new year’s eve.

“Unfortunately, what is happening is as I said days like new year Brigade Road, Commercial Street, MG Road, large number of youngsters gather. Youngsters who are almost like westerners, they try to copy the westerners not only in the mindset, but even the dressing,” Parmeshwara told a news channel.

National Commission for Women chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam criticised the state minister’s comment, and sought his resignation and apology. The NCW and its state unit also sought separate reports from the police about the incident, reported The New Indian Express.

A report in the Bangalore Mirror had claimed that large groups of “unruly men” mobbed the popular MG Road and Brigade Road areas on Sunday night, “pawing, molesting and passing lewd remarks on women on the street,” even though 1,500 police personnel had been deployed there. “We take a lot of precautions,” Parmeshwara said.

Karnataka’s Director General of Police Om Prakash said they will identify the culprits and take action against them. Earlier in the day, the police had said no cases had been filed in the matter, and only said that they had helped out some women in distress, The Indian Express reported.

The Bangalore Mirror report had claimed that had hundreds of women were left cowering behind police personnel or male friends and acquaintances as the crowds of men descended on them. Some were forced to run away, the report said, while others wept. The city had relaxed its night-time restrictions, and allowed celebrations up to 2 am for New Year’s Eve.