“I should not have to apologise for what is on my skin and be put in a traumatising situation where it is apparently acceptable to be harassed, threatened and mobbed,” Matthew Gordon, an Australian visiting Bengaluru, wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday after being hauled to a police station and made to apologise for hurting religious sentiment.

Gordon claimed that he and his girlfriend Emily Kassianou were in a restaurant in the city’s central business district when a group of men started questioning him about a tattoo of the goddess Yellamma on his leg. The men even threatened to skin his leg to remove the tattoo, Gordon told The Hindu. The couple were prevented from leaving the restaurant and when a policeman who arrived on the scene informed Gordon in India he couldn’t display such a tattoo on his leg.

Gordon and Kassianou were then taken to Ashok Nagar police station. The Australian law student said the policemen delivered strictures on Hindu values and then forced him to write the following letter of apology.


To the sub-inspector

Ashok Nagar Police Station, Bangalore

 Dear Sir,

My name is Matthew visiting from Melbourne, Australia. I am very sorry for offending Hindu religious beliefs by my tattoo. I did not know of this suspicious custom in regard to tattoo placement. I will cover it up whilst I am in India. Thank you, for educating me in what is appropriate in regard to body art on my body. I am also extremely sorry for using inappropriate language. Kind regards, Matthew.

In his Facebook post, Gordon said that he respects India and Hinduism, which is why he spent 40 hours getting a Ganesha tattoo on his back and the Yellamma tattoo on his shin. “Because my spiritual journey is my decision, as are the markings on my body,” he wrote.

In an subsequent newspaper interview Bharatiya Janata Party member Ramesh Yadav said that Gordon had voluntarily written he letter of apology after which the complaint against him was withdrawn and the matter "amicably settled".