As expected from any home Minister, even Karnataka State Home Minister G. Parameshwar belittled the gory incident of attacks on Tanzanian girl students with police standing as mute witnesses. On Thursday, amid media outcry and disgust at the growing violent attitude in Bangalore, the state home minister came out to certify that all is well.
But what happened was just the tip of an iceberg. Bangalore, in general, is turning out to be more parochial and every other non-Kannadiga is an easy victim of mob frenzy, if they are caught in wrong act. Incidents of violence on North Indian girl students have made headlines recently and foreign students joined them.
Now that the Tanzanian students, mistaken to be friends of a Sudanese driver who killed a woman under drunken driving, were beaten up after a car chase. This shows the over-enthusiastic night-time crowd that is becoming a moral police if in the mob or petpetrators of crime themselves, if alone. Ironic, but every Indian city is replicating similar behaviour and Bangalore, which was not so violent in the past has joined the ranks of other cities now.
Sunday night incident was typical and mob frenzy on everyone who looked African shows that India and Indians have not changed their attitude since the Independence. Soon after 1947, we saw that Hindus and Muslims were killing each other on religious grounds and now we are seeing similar mob mentality in killing anyone who is weak or in minority or someone who can be singled out as an outsider.
What happened on Sunday was a perfect example of mob frenzy. Jamal Ibrahim, 29, an MBA graduate from Acharya School of Management, was kicked around and bashed up by the mob in Hesarghatta, Bangalore on Sunday night and his woman friend’s shirt was torn though she was not made naked and paraded as some media depicted it to be.
However, the fact that three bikes and two cars chased them though they had nothing to do with the Sudanese driver, is an alarming sign of growing intolerance in the country. Earlier, minorities within the country were targeted and now foreigners that too African students, who are a microscopic minority in a city like Bangalore, have become victims.
So, What’s Next?
Unfortunate but the incident has snowballed into a diplomatic row and Tanzanian embassy has complained to the Indian authorities and Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had sent a strong message to the state chief minister and home minister to act on the issue.
While the five people arrested and rounded up will face a prolonged trial, the incident may soon die down. But what one cannot expect is the same treatment for Indians and Indian students in Tanzania, if any.
All the perpetrators of crime, especially the night-time drivers of vehicles and those who chase targets to bash them up on streets should be punished but more than that the residents should be taught about the repercussions of such frenzy attitude on foreigners. The message is simple: “If we beat them today, our own countrymen will be the victims in that country tomorrow.”
Unlike in the past, any incident or an assault spreads like wildfire on the Internet. If the victims are innocent, the outrage will be much higher as happened in this case of thrashing Tanzanian women students.
Bangalore police should launch an education program to teach the etiquettes of tolerance, especially towards foreign students.
Secondly, they should dissuade violent traffic outrages on roads, which are increasing due to infrastructural inadequacy in Bangalore. No morning in Bangalore goes off without an incident of traffic outrage spilling into violence.
Fourthly, the sleepy Karnataka government should complete the Namma Metro project soon to overcome traffic woes or else more such frenzy attacks become true in daytime too. No home minister, nor Rahul Gandhi can bring peace to the city that is suffering from the worst infrastructure to befit its fast-growing populace.