Bengaluru: An Australian couple was allegedly harassed and heckled during the weekend by BJP activists in Bengaluru over a tattoo of a Hindu goddess and then forced by the police to apologise for "hurting religious sentiment".
Following the incident, Matt Keith, 21, posted on Facebook the letter of apology he claims he was forced to write before the police let him and his girlfriend go.
"Forced letter of apology before I could leave the police station...traumatising situation where it is apparently acceptable to be harassed, threatened and mobbed... I respect India and Hinduism completely.
"That's why I spent 35 hours getting a massive Ganesha put on my back and 4 hours getting the Goddess (Yellamma) on the only bit of space I had left on my body..my girlfriend ...does not deserve sexual abuse", Keith posted:
A top police official meanwhile said on Monday that if found guilty, they will act against those who are involved in the incident.
"Though the Aussie (Matthew Gordon) did not file a complaint so far, we have taken the incident seriously and will act against them (activists) if found guilty," Bengaluru deputy commissioner of police Sandeep Patil told reporters here.
The heckling occurred at Konark restaurant in the city's downtown when Gordon from Melbourne was spotted with the tattoo on the shin of his left leg seated at a table along with his girl friend Emily Kassianou, 20, also from Melbourne.
"A dozen activists walked up to me and threatened to skin my leg if I did not remove the tattoo and apologise to them, as it was hurting their religious sentiments," Patil quoted Gordon telling his juniors outside the eatery later.
Police collected video footage of the incident from the restaurant's closed circuit television camera (CCTV) to examine for investigation.
"It was lunch time (2 p.m.) and we did not want to disturb other guests in the hotel. We told him (Gordon) outside that he should remove the tattoo, as it was insulting to have our goddess image on legs," activist Ramesh Yadav said.
To avoid causing inconvenience to the public, a beat constable took the activists and the Australian duo to a nearby police station to sort out the issue amicably.
"We warned Gordon that he would get into trouble if anyone sees him in public place with a goddess image on his leg and advised him to remove it for his safety," Yadav recalled.
They also lectured the Australian duo on Hindu religion and how its gods and goddesses were venerated by the people.
Incidentally, Yadav contested in the city civic election in 2010 on a BJP ticket and lost.