The city police on Saturday arrested 19 African students of Lovely Professional University (LPU) for indulging in rioting and theft at a public place here.
Assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Sarabjit Singh said two African students had a heated argument with a car owner, after the water from a puddle in the road near Garha railway crossing splashed on to them as the car passed them by. People gathered on the scene even as the car owner left the place. The African students were later joined by another group of six colleagues.
Meanwhile, the agitated students caught hold of one Naveen Kumar of Himachal Pradesh, who was commuting by a cycle rickshaw, mistaking him for a friend of the car owner and beat him up badly in full public view. They even snatched his bag while Naveen continued to plead innocence. The Africans fled from the spot after people assembled there and gave them a chase.
The situation took an ugly turn as the running African students started pelting the public with stones, who also responded in the same manner, Singh said. "Police reached there to save Naveen from these students. The Africans paid scant respect to the law by trying to pull Naveen down from the police jeep. This was the height of their hooliganism. We took them to the bus stand police post, where they called some of their other colleagues. Even inside the police post, they snatched the camera from a press photographer and threatened him. Later, SHO Somnath recovered the camera from them," the ACP said.
Word soon spread and the members of the media fraternity reached the police post. The Africans used derogatory gestures to attack the freedom of the press, the journalists alleged. The Africans were also allegedly seen using derogatory language and gestures against the police.
Later, a case under section 382 (theft), 160 (committing affray), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapons), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed with common object) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC.
The arrested students would be produced in the court on Sunday, Singh said, adding that respective African countries' missions in India would be informed about the arrest of their citizens.