A mob of over 500 people at a cultural show in Assam’s Kamrup district tried to force a group of women dancers to strip dance for them. These dancers, who belonged to a troupe called the Rainbow Dance Crew of Boko and hail from indigenous tribes, had come all the way to the village of Asolpara in Assam to perform at a local event. However, tickets for this performance were purposely sold at higher rates by telling people that these dancers were coming from Coochber in West Bengal to put on a strip show, something that the dancers say they knew nothing about. So when they went up on stage, spectators went wild and demanded that the dancers strip for them. According to the FIR filed by the group of dancers, six girls from the group of 35 dancers were forcefully taken to a tin sheet enclosure, where the mob prodded and pulled at their outfits and demanded they dance naked.
The women narrowly managed to escape, but not before the mob of men managed to hurl stones at the vehicles they were hiding in. “The dancers were not allowed to perform their regular routine and the crowd wanted them to remove their clothes and dance,” Arup D. Rabha, director of Rainbow Dance Group and an eye witness told Hindustan Times. “The organizers also supported the unruly crowd. They were threatening to kill us with daggers if we refused.”
Following this, the police have managed to arrest some of the accused after the group of dancers filed a complaint against the festival organisers. An investigation is underway and the police are still searching for more culprits. “…We have detained three more. In their interrogation, they have confessed to taking part in the event where the alleged molestation took place,” Rupam Hazarika, head of the Chaygaon police station in Assam told Hindustan Times. “Six people who organised the event, and are named in the FIR are absconding. Our investigations are underway and we will arrest them soon.”
Discrimination in the dance industry has always been an issue, from the horrifying conditions of the Launda dancers to racist perceptions of who can perform in the industry. On Monday, June 10, over a 1,000 people took to the streets to raise awareness about this appalling incident and demand severe punishment for all those at fault.
Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.
This article originally appeared on VICE IN.