Bengaluru: A failed BJP neta and his bunch of hangers-on, an Australian kid with a tattoo of a Hindu goddess on his shin — what a dangerous combination in these communally troubled times!
It’s exactly what happened on Bengaluru’s Residency Road on Saturday.
21-year-old Matt and his companion, Emily, bore the brunt of Right-wing ‘hospitality’ when they headed to a popular South Indian restaurant on Residency Road for a meal on Saturday evening. Their mistake: Matt has a tattoo of Goddess Yellamma on his shin.
The BJP activists, who took photos and videos of the couple, allegedly demanded that Matt’s leg be skinned, because “this is India”. “They were taking pictures and videos of us and talking about us in English,” Emily told Deccan Chronicle.
“When I asked them to stop, they confronted us about Matt’s leg, saying he should be skinned.” The waiters in the restaurant allegedly stood by, talking and laughing with the politician and his supporters. When they left the restaurant a short while later, they found a group of around 25 people, including a cop, waiting outside for them. “The cop joined in with the politicians,” said Emily. “He said this India, have the tattoo removed.”
A Hoysala arrived soon after and Matt and Emily were taken to Ashoknagar police station, “for their own protection.”
The right-wing group arrived five minutes later and continued taking pictures of the couple, in the police station. "The cops at the station were being quite nice to us, but they didn't let us leave. They said we were being accused of intentionally spreading hatred," she explained. The complainant, Ramesh, told this reporter that they had simply asked Matt to wear jeans, saying, "He responded with profanity, which is why we called the police."
An eyewitness on Residency Road, (unnamed on request), painted a very different picture, saying, "We saw the couple surrounded by a large group of people, none of whom attempted to help them. The Hoysala van arrived soon after and they were taken away to the station. The politician, meanwhile, was delivering a speech about his love for his religion." The police officers, however, did tell DC that the couple could not be detained, being foreigners and "not having violated criminal law."
n the end, they were asked to file a letter of apology to the complainant, Ramesh, and instructed to "wear long pants and learn Kannada." After they left the station, Matt told this reporter that he no longer wanted to stay in Bengaluru. “I studied in a school in Kodaikanal and I love India, which is why we came back to visit. We have heard about the growing Hindu nationalism, but nothing justifies the way we were treated. I love Hinduism - I also have a Ganesha tattoo on my back. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.”