A 21-year-old Tanzanian girl student passing by the scene of a road accident was assaulted and stripped by a Muslim mob incensed following a road accident on Sunday, where a Sudanese medical student, Mohammed Ismail, had knocked down a local resident Sabeen Taj and her husband Sanuallah — causing the death of the 35-year-old woman and injuries to her husband.
The incident took place at Ganapathinagar in north Bengaluru, off Hesaraghatta Main Road, where a number of African students live and study at local colleges.
This media report says (emphasis added) –
The incident happened on Sunday but came to light only on Wednesday. The Tanzanian woman had sought to file a case with the police but was turned away. She had to seek the help of higher authorities to get her complaint registered.
The Tanzanian student, a second-year BBA student of Acharya College, was passing by the scene of the accident 30 minutes after it happened. An irate mob had gathered and were setting fire to the car. The mob turned its ire on the student. Her clothes were stripped off. Three of her friends were also assaulted but they managed to escape.
Bosco Kaweesi, who is a legal advisor to the All African Students Union in Bengaluru, said, “My friend approached the Peenya police after the attack but they refused to register a case. Later, we had to go to the top brass to have the case registered. I understand that those people were angry, but how can they beat up an innocent woman?”
African students in Bengaluru said they have been cowering in their flats ever since the incident.
They saw the mob attacking the guy who had caused the accident, the girl had no connection with him- Bosco Kaweesi pic.twitter.com/VEXoNYSFiR
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 3, 2016
Another report sheds more light on this shameful incident –
When a concerned bystander tried to cover her with a T-shirt, he too was beaten. When she attempted to board a bus and escape, the passengers of the bus threw her back into the arms of the mob. The Tanzanian girl went straight to the police station to register a complaint of assault but the unsympathetic cops refused to register the case, saying they would only take her complaint if she brought in the driver who ran over the 35 year old woman.
“When the girl did not even know about the accident or the spot where it happened, how can she bring in the driver of the car,” said Mr Bosco.
The second car that was not involved in the accident was set on fire by the mob. Five Tanzanian students, including two girls, from Acharya College were in the car. Everyone was attacked. The mob stood in front of the car, preventing it from moving forward. They were beaten up, their dresses were torn and they were humiliated by the unruly mob for no fault of theirs.
“The local residents on Sunday night went hunting for houses where Africans stayed and harassed them. They stopped vehicles to check if there were any Africans inside. Our students heard that there were messages floating around that the locals were planning to attack Acharya College cottages and all the hostel accommodations in the area, which are full of Africans,” he said.
The community alleged that the police were totally inept during the entire incident.
This incident has shaken up the entire African community in Bharat, and might have repercussions on foreign relations as well. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has expressed her concern and asked the Congress Government in Karnataka to expedite the investigation –
We are deeply pained over the shameful incident with a Tanzanian girl in Bengaluru.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) February 3, 2016
I spoke to the Chief Minister Karnataka. He informed me that a criminal case has been registered and four accused have been arrested.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) February 3, 2016
One media report says that local Hindus in that area were on quite good terms with the African students –
A waiter at a nearby eatery, Nagaraju, said the youths were always respectful and friendly despite the language barrier.
Five people have been detained for the attack on the Tanzanian student, but their names have not been revealed yet by police or media.
The North division police on Wednesday detained five persons from in and around Hesarghatta for their alleged involvement in the attacks. “Based on CCTV footage and identification by our police personnel who were at the scene, we have picked up five people – all locals – and are in the process of interrogating them. More people will be nabbed soon,” deputy commissioner of police (North) T R Suresh told Mirror.
A friend of the victim, who was also assaulted by the mob, relives the horrific encounter –
Jamal Ibrahim, a 29-year-old MBA graduate from Acharya School of Management, was one of the African nationals brutally assaulted by a frenzied mob in Hesarghatta on Sunday night. He recounts his experience here:
It was the worst night of our lives. While I was getting beaten black and blue for no reason and no fault of mine, my female friend Shaina’s (name changed) top was ripped and she too was assaulted. She had her gym pants on so she was not completely naked, but the hooligans were intent on thrashing and humiliating us.
Despite the two policemen who arrived at the scene, the assault continued. I managed to break away from the mob and ran towards one of the cops, pleading for help. He ruth-lessly pushed me back into the crowd even as I firmly held onto his belt and screamed, ‘I will rather die at your feet.’
The only discordant note in reporting this shameful incident comes from Indian Express (IE). Their report questions why the girl student didn’t place the allegation of being stripped in the complaint on Sunday itself – this despite the fact that the girl student said the police turned her away when she went to register her complaint.
While the Tanzanian student had not placed the allegations of being stripped by a mob on record in the complaint filed on Sunday she did so on Wednesday when she was summoned following media reports of the alleged stripping incident.
Quite often in such cases, the trauma of such brutality and public humiliation takes time to overcome, especially given the fear which African students in that area are currently living under. But the IE report has chosen to question the girl’s version of events, especially the fact that she was stripped –
She alleged in her statement that “her top was removed” by the mob, police said.
The title of the IE report suggests that Sushma Swaraj’s pain over this incident is not quite genuine (use of such sneer quotes is standard practice to express doubt about a word or phrases’s validity or to criticize its use) –
Tanzania student attack: Sushma Swaraj says ‘deeply pained’, asks Karnataka CM to ensure safety for foreign students
IE also questions whether it is correct to label the incident as ‘shameful’ and whether ‘stringent’ action against the perpetrators was called for or not –
Reacting to the “shameful” incident, External Affairs Minister Sushma said that she has asked Karnataka Chief Minister S Siddaramaiah to take “stringent” action against the guilty.
The question needs to be asked – would Indian Express have resorted to similar obfuscation of a foreign girl student’s complaint if the incident had occurred in Gujarat and a Hindu mob was accused? Is the Indian Express trying to cover up the crimes committed by members of the Muslim community, and also trying to contain the damage to the image of the allegedly ‘secular’ ruling Congress party in Karnataka?
This is not the first incident of mob violence in Bengaluru, as this report from last March of an attack on African students in Hennur attests. Bengaluru was also the hub of the North East student and worker exodus of 2012 due to an intimidation campaign launched by radical Muslim extremists groups like PFI in retaliation over the 2012 Assam riots and the Rohingya Muslim clashes in Myanmar.
There has been a gradual deterioration in the law & order situation in Bengaluru under the present Congress regime. Such attacks on students will have far-reaching impact on the status of Bengaluru as a knowledge city and IT hub. At the very least, mainstream media houses like Indian Express should focus on reporting just the facts, and not let their ideological or commercial agenda come in the way.