In a shameful incident on Sunday, a Swiss tourist couple visiting Fatehpur Sikri near Agra were harassed and beaten up by a group of locals, leaving them injured with severe wounds. The couple, Quentin Jeremy Clerc and Marie Droz, both 24, were taken to a local hospital and were then later shifted to New Delhi’s Apollo hospital.
The incident triggered outrage across the country on Thursday with Ministry of External Affairs seeking report on the incident from the Uttar Pradesh government. Even though the foreign couple didn’t file a complaint, Agra police, taking suo moto action, announced that they caught the five accused, including three minors, on Thursday.
According to UP Home Department, the couple arrived in Delhi on September 30 and had been visiting various tourist places in the country.
“On October 20, they reached Agra from Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan and stayed at Hotel Sai Palace in Tajganj area. On October 22, both left the hotel around 10 am to visit Fatehpur Sikri where some youths pelted stones and injured them,” the department spokesperson said.
Quoting doctors attending the couple, a Hindustan Times report said Clerc’s skull has been fractured and there’s a risk he might lose his hearing ability. Clerc’s girlfriend Droz has a fractured arm and bruises on her body.
Multiple versions of the incident
According to a report in NDTV, the couple was attacked with sticks and stones by a group after being chased from a railway station in Fatehpur Sikri, one of the popular tourist destinations in the region besides iconic Taj Mahal.
The Hindu reported that locals first tried to engage the couple in conversation and then insisted upon clicking selfies with the woman. It also said the accused also asked some “intrusive questions” to the couple, surrounded them and assaulted Clerc with stones and sticks. Clerc’s partner was attacked when she came to his defence.
The insistence of locals to click a selfie with the woman tourist was also reported by Times of India on Thursday.
The couple hasn’t spoken to media about the incident yet.
A different story in Police FIR
All the versions of the incident reported in the media are absent of a significant detail written in an unsigned FIR copy prepared by the Fatehpur Sikri Police Station. According to the FIR, filed under Section 155 of the Criminal Procedure, the Swiss couple was engaged in “PDA (public display of affection” in a bush near the railway station following which they were attacked by some children.
According to a Times of India report on the incident, the senior UP police officers said the mention of the PDA in the FIR struck them as “strange.” The FIR version contradicts UP police’s official version which said the incident was actually a “vivaad” (argument/fight) between the foreign couple and local youth.
“Around 1:50 PM, a foreigner tourist couple was roaming around in the area near the bushes and were sitting beside the railway track. There were four kids present in the same location, who upon seeing the couple share some private moments, started throwing stones at them,” the summary of the incident in the FIR reads (translated from Hindi to English by ScoopWhoop News).
UP Police’s top officials have also maintained that the incident was a result of confrontation between the locals and the couple. The primary source of the information on FIR is a police official named Pushpendra Pal Singh Chauhan. The FIR doesn’t include the version of victims.
The question of police mentioning “PDA” as the reason for the assault on couple doesn’t arise in isolation. It’s not unknown that UP police is notorious for faking charges and unnecessarily harassing couples for displaying love in public. In fact, soon after the rise of Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister of the state, the moral policing on the streets of UP reached a new level with local youth groups, known as anti-Romeo squads, thrashing couples in parks and other public places.
Feature image source: Twitter/Indian Express