Bengaluru: In a controversial incident in Bengaluru, an Australian couple was harassed by a group of BJP workers at a prominent restaurant in Central Bengaluru on Saturday. The workers who gathered at restaurant based on a 'tip-off', abused and harassed the man for having a tattoo of a goddess on his shin.

Matt Keith and his friend Emily were accosted by the mob outside the restaurant on Residency Road in Central Business District. The mob took objection to Keith having a tattoo of Goddess Yellamma, on his shin. The crowd began heckling the duo, and Keith called a friend.

Ashoknagar police then arrived at the spot. Keith and his friends were taken to the police station and the mob followed. The crowd and police allegedly forced Matt to write an apology letter.

On Monday, Sandeep Patil ordered an investigation into the case, and why the officers at the station asked the tourists to write a letter of apology. "The matter has come to our notice and an ACP-rank officer will probe the matter," he said.

The letter, addressed to the sub-inspector of Ashok Nagar police station, read: "My name is Matthew visiting from Melbourne, Australia. I am very sorry for offending Hindu religious beliefs by my tattoo. I didn't know of this auspicious custom in regard to tattoo placement. I will make sure to cover it up until I am in India. Thanking you for educating me on what is appropriate. I am also extremely sorry for using inappropriate language."

On Sunday, Keith's post read: "Tolerance, understanding and equality is what we live by. I respect India and Hinduism completely. That's why I spent 35 hours getting a massive Ganesha put on my back and four hours getting the goddess of the lowest rung of Indian society (Yellamma) on the only bit of space I had left on my body. Because my spiritual journey is my decision, as are the markings on my body. I do not deserve to be victimized and have to physically defend myself and my girlfriend every day. She does not deserve sexual abuse, both physical and verbal. We support equality for all, tolerance of everyone and especially for the women in this country. Please support us as we try to bring awareness to crimes of injustice."

However, BJP leader Ramesh Yadav, who led the contingent of workers, claimed that the tattoo insulted religious sentiments. He alleged that when they confronted the man, he verbally abused them. When the workers realized it was permanent tattoo, they asked him to wear pants. The BJP leader said they didn't ask the Australian for an apology.

BJP spokesperson in Bengaluru initially denied that the the workers belonged to his party, However, when told Yadav had contested as a candidate from Ward 111 in 2010 BBMP polls as a BJP candidate, he added: "individual actions can't be attributed to the party"

Courtesy Times of India