Matt Keith and his friend Emily were accosted by the mob outside a restaurant on Residency Road. The mob took objection to Keith having a tattoo of the goddess, Yellamma, on his shin. The crowd began heckling the duo, and Keith called a friend.
Ashoknagar police also arrived at the spot. Keith and his friends were taken to the police station and the mob followed. The crowd and police allegedly forced Matt to write an apology letter.
The letter, addressed to the sub-inspector of Ashok Nagar police station, read: “My name is Matthew visiting from Melbourne, Australia. I am very sorry for offending Hindu religious beliefs by my tattoo. I didn’t know of this auspicious custom in regard to tattoo placement. I will make sure to cover it up until I am in India. Thanking you for educating me on what is appropriate. I am also extremely sorry for using inappropriate language.” Both the sub-inspector and inspector of Ashoknagar police station denied the incident.
On Sunday, Keith’s post read: “Tolerance, understanding and equality is what we live by. I respect India and Hinduism completely. That’s why I spent 35 hours getting a massive Ganesha put on my back and four hours getting the goddess of the lowest rung of Indian society (Yellamma) on the only bit of space I had left on my body. Because my spiritual journey is my decision, as are the markings on my body. I do not deserve to be victimised and have to physically defend myself and my girlfriend every day. She does not deserve sexual abuse, both physical and verbal. We support equality for all, tolerance of everyone and especially for the women in this country. Please support us as we try to bring awareness to crimes of injustice.”