So here’s a brief recap of what’s happened so far: A car driven by a Sudanese national mows down two in Bengaluru, killing a woman. A mob attacks the car involved in the accident. The mob then targets another car that comes along that has a Tanzanian woman in it, and as far as information available indicates, they target her only because she’s black and presumably an associate of the Sudanese driver.
The Tanzanian woman says she’s beaten and stripped by the mob. The police deny that she was stripped. They get some additional back from the state’s home minister who backs their claim, and then keeps a straight face to say it wasn’t a racist attack.
“This is not a racist attack, this is just a response to an accident,” G Parmeshwara told a press conference. He even read her statement which said she had been stripped but then claimed that she hadn’t been stripped.
And then came along Union Law Minister Sadananda Gowda.
He demanded justice for the woman who was killed in the accident and compensation for her, a justified demand. And then proceeded to demand that the state government should “keep an eye” on all foreign students in the city.
“I have come to know that more than thousands of students are staying here and functioning even after their visa having expired,” said Gowda.
“If state government cannot control law and order situation then it will lead to much bigger problem in the days to come. I urge upon the government to constitute a special squad to monitor foreign students,” he further added.
He met the family of the woman killed in the accident, but hasn’t met the Tanzanian woman yet despite being in the same city for unspecified reasons. But it’s not a difficult one to guess. The Tanzanian woman isn’t part of a vote bank that the former Karnataka Chief Minister needs to appeal to.
To learn the apt response, he could take a page from his ministerial colleague Sushma Swaraj’s book of ‘how to react to an issue’. She tweeted that she was shocked and asked for a report from the Chief Minister. Gowda instead chose to play politics with the narrow aim of feeding a racist outlook and appearing to be a champion of local people’s causes.
The statements by the state home minister Parmeshwara and Gowda, are perhaps symptomatic of what’s wrong with many of India’s political leaders. In the pursuit of narrow political gains, they willing to compromise on basic humanity.
The apt response for the home minister Parmeshwara would have been to acknowledge the seriousness of the complaint for now and treat the Tanzanian victim with some sympathy. Treating her like someone trying to malign the government’s name is hardly the support that she’s looking for presently. If her complaint says the police stood by passively and two police officials have been suspended, the least the minister can do is apologise for the treatment she’s had to endure.
In Gowda’s case, he should realise that he’s a union minister and someone who represents the country now and not just the Bangalore North constituency. If a country’s law minister goes off on a rant about foreign students instead of acknowledging the incident at hand, it reflects poorly on him and the government. When his colleague is attempting to firefight, Gowda needn’t be starting fresh ones in the hope of it serving him well in the next election.
The woman killed in the Bengaluru accident is indeed a victim, but so is the Tanzanian girl who was assaulted. Their nationality and skin colour shouldn’t determine the quality of justice promised and delivered.
Feature image source: Twitter