India Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj branded the attack “shameful” and demanded swift justice for those responsible, as she moved to defuse any diplomatic tensions over the incident.
“We are deeply pained over the shameful incident with a Tanzanian girl in Bengaluru,” Sushma tweeted late Wednesday, referring to the southern tech hub which is also home to a large foreign student population.
“I have asked the (state’s) chief minister to ensure safety and security of all foreign students and stringent punishment for the guilty.”
The mob attacked the 21-year-old and her male friends on Sunday night in apparent revenge for a road accident in which a Sudanese driver ran over a local woman who died.
The student said in a complaint lodged with police on Wednesday that the rioting mob attacked her car as they drove near the scene of the accident less than an hour later.
“Our car was set ablaze. They tugged at my t-shirt and it tore, leaving me without anything. They continued to thrash us and we ran for our lives,” she was quoted by the Times of India in her complaint saying.
“My friends and I hopped onto a bus. The driver didn’t move and the other passengers threw us out. A passerby who also offered me his T-shirt was also thrashed.”
Bangalore police commissioner N S Megharikh said five people have been arrested over the attack which he said was a “road rage incident” and not racially motivated.
“We have arrested the five accused this morning after interrogating them on Wednesday night,” Megharikh told AFP.
But Tanzanian High Commissioner John W. H. Kijazi said India and African nations needed to work together to halt such incidents which “are occurring time and again”.
“It’s not a once in a while event, they come several times in a year,” he told the NDTV network on Thursday.
Police have come under fire for allegedly failing to stop the attack after the student said she pleaded with an officer for help, stressing that she was Tanzanian and knew nothing of the accident.
“He told us ‘you all look alike and should get the black man who ran over a woman in the area’,” she alleged in her complaint.