Bengaluru: The Australian High Commission in India responded to the alleged harassment of Matt Keith, a 21-year-old Australian, saying, “We are concerned about the harassment of the Australian citizen was threatened with violence and detained by police because of a tattoo. The Australian Consulate General in Chennai is speaking with local authorities about the incident and has made contact with the couple in question.”
The statement was issued by a spokesperson from the Australian High Commission in Chennai on Monday.
The spokesperson added, “We understand offence was taken at an image of a deity tattooed on a person’s leg. We are in contact with local authorities regarding the incident. The Australian government encourages Australians travelling abroad to research and respect local customs and laws.”
The incident has received nationwide attention, with well over 2,00,000 hits on the video posted by Matt of what took place outside Konark on Residency Road, where the trouble began.
Meanwhile, DCP Sandeep Patil has initiated an inquiry into the incident, which was brought to their notice on Sunday night.
“The investigation team is headed by an ACP and will explore the facts surrounding the incident,” he said.
“As of now, the allegations are that the foreign national was forced to write an apology. They were questioned by a group of people at a restaurant, the police were called and the couple was taken to the station. What transpired in the station is the matter of the investigation,” he explained. He added that if “it is found that any police personnel were involved, action will be taken against them.”
At the station on Saturday evening, the complainant, Ramesh Yadav, who is a BJP member, said, “We told him that the tattoo was disrespectful, but they responded very aggressively. He showed us his foot and used a lot of profanity, which is why we called the police in the first place,” he said.
“He’s lucky that we saw him first and not members of the RSS, otherwise the consequences would have been severe. It’s dangerous for him to walk around in areas like Ejipura and Austin Town, especially during the festival season.”