BANGALORE: India police arrested five people on Thursday over an enraged mob’s attack on a Tanzanian student who was beaten, her shirt ripped off and car set ablaze in the city of Bangalore.
Tanzanian High Commissioner John W. H. Kijazi said he has urged the Indian government to step up security for all African students in Bangalore in the wake of the attack.
“They are really disappointed, frustrated and scared actually,” the commissioner told the CNN-IBN network of the students.
India Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj branded the attack “shameful” and demanded swift justice for those responsible, as she moved to defuse diplomatic tensions over the incident.
“We are deeply pained over the shameful incident with a Tanzanian girl in Bengaluru,” Sushma tweeted late Wednesday, referring to the southern tech hub which is also home to a large foreign student population.
The mob attacked the 21-year-old and her male friends on Sunday night in apparent revenge for a road accident in which a Sudanese driver ran over a local woman who died.
The student said in a complaint lodged with police on Wednesday that the rioting mob attacked her car as they drove near the scene of the accident less than an hour later.
“Our car was set ablaze. They tugged at my t-shirt and it tore, leaving me without anything. They continued to thrash us and we ran for our lives,” she was quoted by the Times of India in her complaint saying.
“My friends and I hopped onto a bus. The driver didn’t move and the other passengers threw us out. A passerby who also offered me his T-shirt was also thrashed. “Bangalore police commissioner N S Megharikh said five people have been arrested over the attack which he said was a “road rage incident” and not racially motivated.
“We have arrested the five accused this morning after interrogating them on Wednesday night,” Megharikh said.
But commissioner Kijazi said India and African nations needed to work together to halt such incidents which “are occurring time and again”.
“It’s not a once in a while event, they come several times in a year,” he told the NDTV network.
Kijazi said he had asked India’s foreign ministry to ensure those behind the attack were prosecuted, saying “we will only be satisfied when we see the results” of the police investigation.
Police have come under fire for allegedly failing to stop the attack after the student said she pleaded with an officer for help, stressing that she was Tanzanian and knew nothing of the accident.
“He told us ‘you all look alike and should get the black man who ran over a woman in the area’,” she alleged in her complaint.
In 2014 in New Delhi, a mob attacked three African men in a metro station for apparently harassing local women, in what was then branded a racially motivated incident.
Delhi’s former law minister was also accused in 2014 of harassing African women after he led a vigilante mob through an area of the capital, accusing the women of being prostitutes.