NEW DELHI -- Four days after a Tanzanian woman was attacked on a street in Bengaluru, the government of Karnataka has refuted allegations that she was stripped and paraded naked, characterizing the incident as a mob reaction to an accident instead of a racist attack.
"There was no stripping and parading naked," Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara told reporters on Thursday. "This is definitely not a racial attack. It was just a response to the accident by the Sudanese student. I don't think Bangaloreans have that kind of a mindset."
On 31 January, a car driven by Sudanese student Mohammed Ismail hit two local residents, K. Sanaullah and his wife, triggering the incident which has sparked outrage across the country. While K. Sanaullah was injured, his wife died on the spot. Ismail was also injured and his car was set on fire.
The Tanzanian woman, who was traveling with other companions, was pulled out of their car by the angry mob, when they arrived at the spot around 30 minutes after the accident. Her companions were also assaulted and their vehicle was torched.
When the student tried to board a bus to escape, she was pushed out by other passengers.
Contrary to the Karnataka government, Tanzanian ambassador to India John W.H. Kijazi said that the attack on 31 January had a "racist element." "You see a black person, you run to him and beat him," Kijaz told ANI. "It means there is an element of racism."
"Every black person is an enemy because an Indian lady has been killed by a black person?" he told Times Now.
Another student, who was also attacked by the mob on 31 January, said, "it was a clear case of racial attack." "They beat her severely," he told Times Now, referring to the Tanzanian student. "They tore her clothes for sure."
Five persons have been arrested in connection with the horrific incident, so far.
In a police complaint filed on Sunday, the Tanzanian woman did not mention that she was stripped, The Indian Express reported, but she said that “her top was removed” in a subsequent complaint filed on Wednesday following media reports.
“We were shocked by media reports on Wednesday and we summoned the woman to know what exactly happened. She appeared before the Soladevanahalli police and gave a new statement, saying she was stripped by a mob. We have added suitable sections of the IPC to the FIR that was registered earlier based on the complaint that her car was set on fire. We need to investigate further," T.R. Suresh, a senior police official, told IE.
Om Prakash, Karnataka's top cop, contradicted Suresh. "She did not say that she was stripped and paraded," he told ANI.
And Parameshwara today said that the Tanzanian woman made no mention of being stripped naked in her complaint.
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said that she was "deeply pained over the shameful incident," and had asked the Siddaramaiah-led Congress Party government in Karnataka to ensure the safety of all foreign students.
Meanwhile, Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi has also asked the Karnataka government for a report on the incident.