Australian harassed in Bengaluru over tattoo
A group of people harassed an Australian couple at a restaurant here on Saturday, even threatening to skin the young man’s leg, for sporting the tattoo of Hindu goddess Yellamma on his shin.
Their ordeal did not end there as the city police not only detained them but also forced the man to apologise to the group for ‘hurting their religious sentiments.’
The incident happened around 2 p.m. when Matthew Gordon (21) and his girl friend Emily Kassianou (20) from Melbourne were spotted by the group. “One of them came to me and confronted me about my tattoo. Soon, they surrounded us and threatened to skin my leg and remove the tattoo,” a shaken Gordon, a law student, told The Hindu on Sunday.
The group soon called in more people and over 25 men gathered outside the eatery, not allowing the couple to leave. “A policeman arrived and said this is India and one couldn’t sport such a tattoo on the leg,” Mr. Gordon recalled.
Mr. Gordon, the Australian who was confronted by a group of local people at a restaurant here on Saturday for sporting a goddess tattoo on his shin, his girl friend, Emily Kassianou (20), both from Melbourne and their local friend Abishek were taken to the Ashok Nagar police station.
The Australian couple were allegedly given a “dressing-down” and a “lesson on Hindu values” by the police personnel in front of the protesting group.
“Policemen forced Matthew to write an apology and we were made to wait for three hours till he did so,” said Ms. Kassianou.
“The policemen advised me on Hindu religion and insisted I give a written apology for not covering my goddess tattoo, even as the group just watched. I tried taking law points, but had to finally give in as my girlfriend was in tears as the cops wouldn’t let us go,” Mr. Gordon said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Sandeep Patil, termed the matter “trivial.” “Both parties have reached a compromise and there is nothing serious about it,” he said.
Watch: Exclusive video of Mr. Gordon being harassed.
We did not force him to write an apology letter. He voluntarily gave that letter, says Ramesh Yadav.
The local politician attached to Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP), who took objection to an Australian law student sporting a tattoo, R V Ramesh Yadav, spoke to The Hindu on Monday. Excerpts:
Q: Were you at the hotel when the incident happened? The Australian law student has alleged you abused him for the tattoo. Why?
A: Yes, I was at the Konark Hotel with three other people and saw this youth sporting a tattoo of a Hindu goddess on his leg. We went up to him and asked him what was the tattoo and he said it was Yellamma, a Hindu Goddess. So he was aware that it was a goddess and still he was insulting it. We asked him to remove the tattoo or we would protest.
But he started abusing us with foul language. He also called up his friend, a localite who turned up soon. The friend also used foul language and others at the hotel joined in to condemn this. You can check the CC TV footage at the hotel.
One of us called up Ashok Nagar police. They came and whisked the couple away to the police station. There also he was arguing. Later he gave an apology letter to the police after which my I intervened and my friend withdrew the complaint he had lodged. It was amicably settled.
Q: Many sport tattoos on the shin, calf muscles as well. What is wrong with it?
A: It is insulting the Hindu goddess and also provocative. When we came to know that it was a permanent tattoo, we only asked him to wear a pair of trousers and cover it, for his own safety.
We noticed it fine. But if he was roaming on the streets of Austin Town and other areas in Shantinagar, when most of these areas are celebrating Durga Puja putting up pandals, his safety itself is at stake if some mob notices and takes objection to it. It is for his own good that we told him and convinced him about this.
Q: Was there a need to make the Australian national write an apology letter? What wrong did he do to warrant seeking an apology from him?
A: We did not force him to write an apology letter. He voluntarily gave that letter. We asked him to apologise for the foul language which he used, in which we are justified. We and the police only educated him about the Hindu values and that sporting that tattoo on the leg would be taken as an insult to the religion.
Moreover, I agree that we as Hindus have not educated others enough. How would he know? He would have got a tattoo in India itself. When one of us, could put that tattoo on his leg, there is no point in objecting him. So we let him go, after asking him to wear a pair of trousers and not sport the tattoo.
(R V Ramesh Yadav, 40, has been associated with BJP since 1993. He has held many party posts in the city unit of the party. He contested as a candidate from Ward 111, in 2010 BBMP polls as a BJP candidate. Being a follower of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, he moved out of BJP to join KJP in 2013. He contested as a KJP candidate for Shantinagar assembly constituency in 2013, but lost. He rejoined BJP with B S Yeddyurappa. His younger sister R V Nagarathna, contested as BJP candidate from Shanthinagar ward in the recent August 2015 BBMP polls and lost).