An Indian minister has criticized women for dressing "like Westerners" at a New Year's Eve celebration, where a mob allegedly carried out a series of sex assaults.
G Parameshwara, the home minister in the southern state of Karnataka, told The Times Now television network that the "unfortunate" attacks were a consequence of women wearing Western clothing.
"A large number of youngsters gathered, youngsters who are almost like Westerners," Parameshwara said, adding, "They try to copy Westerners not only in mindset, but even the dressing, so some disturbances, some girls are harassed, these kinds of things do happen."
Parameshwara, who later claimed to have been misquoted, has been widely condemned for his remarks.
The central government's junior home minister, Kiren Rijiju, in the capital New Delhi described the comments as "irresponsible."
"We can't allow the shameful act of #MassMolestation go unpunished," Rijiju said on social networking website Twitter, adding that women's safety is a "must in a civilized society."
Meanwhile, Lalitha Kumaramangalam, who heads India's National Commission for Women, has urged Parameshwara to quit over his controversial remarks.
"I want to ask this minister: are Indian men so pathetic and weak that when they see a woman in Western clothes on a day of revelry, they get out of control?"
"When will the Indian men learn to respect women? The minister should apologize to the women of the country and resign," Press Trust of India news agency quoted Kumaramangalam as saying.
Police have yet to charge anyone in connection with the violence on Saturday night in Bangalore, the largest city in the state of Karnataka. Police say they are now trawling through CCTV footage to see if they can identify any of the attackers.
Local media reports have carried testimony and photos of victims cowering from their attackers or fleeing for safety.
The assaults are one of the latest in a series of sex attacks in India.
The incidents have reignited concerns about women's safety in India, which is notorious for its history of violence against women, including frequent cases of rape.
The country toughened punishment for sexual violence after the fatal gang-rape of a student on a Delhi bus in 2012, whose death sparked mass protests as well as domestic and international outrage.