Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara on Thursday said that the attack on a Tanzanian student by a mob in Bengaluru was not a racist attack, and was just a response to an earlier accident where a local woman was hit by a car. The minister, who named the Tanzanian, also said that local police registered a case regarding the accident immediately, but the 21-year-old woman only complained of the attack on her two days later. He also said that according to prima facie reports, she had not been stripped. The woman was beaten, stripped of her clothes, and paraded by a mob in Bengaluru on Sunday, after they presumed she was involved in an accident where a Sudanese man's car crashed into a local woman.
Refuting the state's claims, Tanzanian ambassador to India, John WH Kijazi said that the student was attacked because of her race and colour. Kijazi told ANI that there was an element of mob justice to the attack, and that the case was a work in progress.
Director General of Police, Om Prakash, also told reporters on Thursday that when the student reported her assault to police, she did not tell them she was stripped or paraded in public. He then claimed she was only partially stripped, and that this was an isolated incident the police would handle. Initial reports said that local police present at the scene made no attempt to rescue the woman, and later refused to file an FIR on the assault. Police took the woman's statement only on Wednesday, reported The Times of India.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday asked the Karnataka government for an explanation regarding the incident, and the Ministry of Home Affairs also sought a report from the state. ANI reported that Karnataka Chief Minister K Siddaramaiah is looking into the matter and that the state government has sent a report to the foreign ministry. Siddaramaiah said that five people have been arrested in the case. Reports said that some Bengaluru police officers might be suspended over their handling of the incident. Police have launched a manhunt for the suspects, official told IANS.
"We have registered a case of riot and arson against the accused on [the] victim's statement in which she reported of being assaulted in a [case of] mistaken identity by a mob on the outskirts of the city," Bengaluru Police Commissioner NS Megharik said on Wednesday. "We have formed special teams to trap the culprits and render justice to the victim who declined to file complaint against the accused fearing attack again," he added.
On Thursday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu condemned the attack. Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also spoke out against the incident, on Twitter: