A 33-year-old major in the Indian army was on Friday allegedly assaulted in Bengaluru by a group of unknown people on the road for "being a North Indian who did not know how to drive."
The major, who sustained injuries on his forehead was taken to a hospital by a witness and later filed a complaint with the Bayappanahalli police. An FIR was registered on Saturday. A case has been registered under section 324 of the Indian Penal Code.
The victim, who did not wish to be named, was reportedly assaulted by a group of unknown men near SCT Institute of Technology in Kaggadasapura. An autorickshaw driver, allegedly enraged by the traffic jam, began to shout at the major accusing him of not knowing how to drive on the road.
Murali Kartik, a witness, told Bangalore Mirror that the auto driver attacked the army officer without any provocation.
"The major was innocent and the auto driver picked a fight for no reason. The victim did not even come out of the car and was unable to understand the language in which the driver was speaking. Four other passersby, who were in no way connected to the incident, ganged up with the driver and started damaging the vehicle. The victim was then pulled out of the car and badly beaten," Murali Kartik, who works at Manyata Tech Park told BM.
A friend of the victim's-also an army officer- told The News Minute that the attackers were visibly enraged by the number plate of the victim's car that bore a Haryana registration.
Speaking to The News Minute on condition of anonymity, the friend said that army officers across the country have always been vulnerable to such attacks, since their car registration is an indication that they are not a native of the place.
"In a situation where there is a traffic jam, naturally there is severe tension in the air. But that does not mean someone can walk up to a person and assault him," he said.
Saying that there is animosity against outsiders in Karnataka, he said that the victim's car registration and his difficulty to speak Kannada fluently made him vulnerable to the attack. There is no doubt that the attack is racially motivated," said the army officer who has been posted in Karnataka since 2014.
Meanwhile, Sandeep Parswanath, President of Samanya Kannadiga denied that the attack could be racially motivated. Admitting that he has no knowledge about the attack on the army officer, Sandeep said, "The locals may have attacked him because of some other reason. Saying that locals tend to attack non-Kannadigas is not true. If it was indeed true, shouldn't all non-Kannadigas get assaulted here? Moreover, how can the locals identify whether a person in a car is a localite or not?"
When pointed out that the army officer's car bore a registration number of a different state, Sandeep said, "I still don't believe the assault was racially motivated. The locals cannot be so powerful to attack an army officer," said Sandeep.