BANGALORE -  An Indian minister faced a severe backlash Tuesday after he criticised women for dressing "like westerners" at a New Year's eve celebration where a mob allegedly carried out a series of sex assaults.

Although police have yet to charge anyone in connection with the violence on Saturday night in Bangalore, local media have carried testimony and photos of victims cowering from their attackers or fleeing for safety.

Police say they are now trawling through CCTV footage to see if they can identify any of the attackers.

But a minister with responsibility for policing in the southern state of Karnataka, whose largest city is Bangalore, said the "unfortunate" attacks were a consequence of women wearing western clothing.

"A large number of youngsters gathered - youngsters who are almost like westerners," Karnataka's Home Minister G Parameshwara told The Times Now television network, speaking in English.

"They try to copy westerners not only in mindset, but even the dressing, so some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kinds of things do happen."

Parameshwara, who later claimed to have been misquoted, was widely condemned for his televised comments, with the central government's junior home minister Kiren Rijiju describing them as "irresponsible".

"We can't allow the shameful act of #MassMolestation go unpunished," he said on Twitter, adding that women's safety is a "must in a civilised society".

Lalitha Kumaramangalam, who heads India's National Commission for Women, said Parameshwara should resign over his comments.

"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 apologise to the women of the country and resign," Kumaramangalam told the Press Trust of India news agency.

India has been shamed by shocking levels of sexual assault against women, which came into sharp focus in December 2012 when a student was gang-raped on a bus in New Delhi and later died of her injuries, leading to the official cancellation of that year's New Year celebrations.

Some of the country's most senior politicians have been accused of casual misogyny, with the leader of one political party widely condemned for brushing off the December 2012 attack by saying "boys will be boys".

The attacks in Bangalore have drawn comparison with last year's mass sexual assaults at New Year's celebrations in the German city of Cologne, where police were also accused of losing control.

Senior Bangalore police officer Malini Krishnamoorthy told AFP no complaint had yet been filed and officers were scanning hours' worth of CCTV footage.

"We have appealed to the public to come forward if they have evidence in any form," the officer added.

Monitoring Desk adds: According to BBC, reports have emerged on local and social media of women being molested during festivities on Saturday night. A Bangalore newspaper published photos of women crying and complaining that they had been groped by crowds of men.

Saturday night's events took place in the central business district. Crowds of around 10,000-12,000 gathered in the Mahatma Gandhi Road and Brigade Road area to celebrate the new year. Reports said 1,500 policemen and women were deployed.

"The crowds were three times more than what we have seen normally in this area," Anantha Subramanyam, Bangalore Mirror photographer, told BBC. His pictures have raised questions about the city's men and their behaviour.

"From about 2345 to 0030, people just could not move in the area. The police would clear the crowd near the junction of the two roads and they would again collect there," he said.

"When there was a slight let up in the crowd and when people could reach the police, I saw women complaining to the policewomen that they were molested. The police asked them to identify the men, but they couldn't. It was a mob frenzy.

"I could see a girl surrounded by several men and crying," he added.

Chaitali Wasnick, a photographer, posted on Facebook that a man tried to grope her as she was returning from work. "With so much ease he did [it], as if he thought I'll not utter a word," she said, adding that the police did not intervene, even as she fought off the man.

One woman who was in the area that night was Eashita (not her full name). She confirmed that "a couple of women were touched when a group of 20-30 men suddenly started running on the road".

"I was there with my parents and brother and we were in a group of 12-15 so we were protected," she said, adding that there were lots of policemen there who "escorted us to the nearby Metro station and ensured that we were not harassed".