Bengaluru’s racism narrative: Allegation, rebuttal and a happy ending

By: Maitreyee Boruah
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Bengaluru,Feb 8: In a Bollydisque ending, Bengaluru too closed its week-long racism drama with a happy ending.

So, let us all move on and get busy with our daily routine, till one more violent and shameful incident pricks our collective conscience. It was interesting to watch how the entire saga of mob attack on a Tanzanian woman enfolded.

First, the case went unreported for three days. The Police swung into action only when a section of the media highlighted the harrowing experience of the victim and her friends at the hands of an unruly vigilante mob.

Racism in Bengaluru : What’s the truth

The gory details of the assault and disrobing of the 21-year-old black woman on Bengaluru's roads made "mainstream English media" cringe and term it as a racial attack. The political class and police officers were quick to deny the allegations.

Instead of condemning the event, the ruling class--members of both the BJP (centre) and the Congress (state)--got worried about keeping intact Bengaluru's image. After all, we're living in a time when India is espousing the idea of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

In our blemish-free society, there is no place for racism and intolerance. And even if they exist, let us hide them under the carpet. Otherwise, we would risk defaming our nation in front of the international community.

Did not we witness what happened to the once much-loved superstar Aamir Khan? After he spoke a few lines against intolerance, he not only faced public wrath, but lost several endorsement deals.

So, we need to keep our mouths shut. Right? No, but a section representing the majoritarian views can only speak. And, they spoke. Even a couple of journalists joined the chorus singing the popular tune.

In their columns and Facebook timelines, journalists, who are supposed to take a neutral stand, said Bengaluru was a very tolerant city and the incident was not at all racist. It was just a reaction of a mob. The crowd was forced to take the law and order into their own hands, because a local woman was killed in a road accident where the driver of the car was a Sudanese man. 

The attackers, in spite of all their pent up anger, did not thrash any non-African. They waited till a group of people having same skin colour as the Sudanese man arrived at the scene. Afterwards, began the merciless raid on the youngsters, who had absolutely no knowledge about what happened 30-minutes prior to their arrival at the crime scene.

Like the politicians, journalists too blamed African students in the city as criminals and drug-addicts. Both the members of our first and fourth estates minced no words in telling us that locals are very unhappy as Africans are spreading nuisance and polluting the tranquil environment of Bengaluru.

Thus, few residents of the city took the law into their own hands to save Bengaluru. It becomes clear from the comments made by politicians and journalists that the mob which attacked the Tanzanian students should actually be rewarded not punished.

Initially, the Tanzanian High Commissioner to India John WH Kijazi termed the attack as "racist". However, after his visit to the city, the Tanzanian envoy totally changed his opinion. He told the media in Bengaluru that the incident was unfortunate, but not racist.

Kijazi's quick change of stance brought much relief to our netas, as the issue was almost heading towards a diplomatic row between India and Tanzania.

Read More: Tanzanian woman assault case: Senior Bengaluru police official suspended

Even popular dailies of Bengaluru quoted African students, staying in the city, saying it was not a racist attack. See, there is no racism. So, let us close the chapter on a positive note. Probably it would not have been such a happy ending to a tragic saga had the victim was of French or American origin.

After all, France and the US are more powerful than India, as India is more powerful than Tanzania and several small African nations. Next time, when an Indian would be attacked (there is a high probability of it) on a foreign shore, we should not protest, calling it a racial attack.

We have a popular theory now, mob reaction and the mob is a faceless term, so no culprits to be punished.

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