A 21-year-old Tanzanian student was stripped, assaulted and paraded naked by a mob on the outskirts of Bengaluru last week, one of her friends told HT on Wednesday, while he accused police of standing by, verbally abusing the victim and initially refusing to lodge a case.
The alleged hate crime took place a short while after a Sudanese man mowed down a woman in the same area on Sunday night.
The mob also thrashed for about an hour three male students travelling with the Tanzanian woman and torched their car, said Hassan, one of the victims.
This is not the first time those viewed as outsiders by some local residents have faced attacks in the city. In March last year, four African students were badly injured in a scuffle after some locals objected to them entering a bar.
More than 30,000 people from the Northeast fled Bengaluru in August 2012 after a handful of attacks sparked rumours of a larger conspiracy.
Hassan alleged that policemen watched as the mob ran riot and refused to register an FIR against the attackers on the night of the incident.
“We are deeply pained over the shameful incident with a Tanzanian girl in Bengaluru,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted. “I spoke to the chief minister Karnataka. He informed me that a criminal case has been registered and four accused have been arrested.”
We are deeply pained over the shameful incident with a Tanzanian girl in Bengaluru.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) February 3, 2016
After sections of the local media broke the story, police commissioner NS Megharikh told reporters his men had not received any complaint from the African students, a claim that was hotly contested by the victims.
Sources said the Tanzanian high commission has sent a diplomatic communication requesting the Indian government to follow up on the matter and take necessary legal action as well as ensure the safety and security of all African students in the country.
Hassan said the woman, who was badly injured, “somehow managed to limp to the police station in her tattered clothes” only to receive verbal abuse from the officers. An FIR was finally lodged on Wednesday evening.
According to Bosco Kaweesi, legal adviser of the All African Students Union in Bengaluru, the violence began after the car accident in which a woman died. The crowd that gathered brutally assaulted the driver.
Within minutes, hundreds of people had assembled at the spot and they took turns to thrash the Sudanese man, Kaweesi said.
“Our car was passing through the same spot. We reached around 30 minutes after the accident. People started thumping on our bonnet. Initially we thought that they were trying to get us to take a different route. Soon we realised that they wanted us to step out and that they wanted to hurt us,” Hassan said, adding that another student, Micah Pundugu, who was also in the car, sustained the worst injuries.
He said the Tanzanian woman tried to escape by climbing onto a moving bus, but the passengers pushed her back into the crowd.