Manipuri student, friends attacked 'for not knowing Kannada'

Manipuri student, friends attacked 'for not knowing Kannada'

A 22-year-old Manipuri student and his two friends were attacked and racially abused by a three-member gang at Byrathi Cross near Kothanur here late on Tuesday night for “not knowing Kannada”.

One of the gang members later chased down the student on a motorbike, crumpling him to the ground and inflicting bruises on his face. Police have arrested all the three suspects based on the victims’ description.

Michael Lamjathang Haokip, a student at BMS College of Engineering, and his two friends—Ngamkholen Haokip and Rocky Kipgen—had stopped by an eatery for a quick meal. They had returned from the Kothanur police station after inviting the inspector for an upcoming cultural event of Thadous (a tribe in Manipur) organised at a nearby college.

“We had not eaten the whole day and were very much engrossed in organising and rehearsing for the event. We were tired and had stopped for a quick meal at the eatery and were having a very serious discussion on the nitty-gritty of the event.

We did not even notice anyone at that time,” Haokip told Deccan Herald.
Just then, three men, all aged under 30 and eating at the same place, approached them. “If you are eating Karnataka food, living in Karnataka, you have to also know Kannada,” one of them remarked.

They started abusing Haokip and his friends. “At first, we ignored them thinking they were drunk. They got infuriated at being ignored and one of them picked a steel chair to hit us. Another went out to get a stone. Soon, they all began hitting us,” Haokip recounted.

According to him, he tried to stop them and reasoned that they were not talking anything ill about Karnataka. But the men didn’t listen. They especially targeted Haokip and also called up some of their friends who joined them in no time.

Haokip somehow managed to escape from the attackers and began running towards the Kothanur police station, a kilometre away. But one of them chased him on a bike and ran into him. Haokip crumpled to the ground and suffered bruises on the face. But he managed to reach the police station. All this happened between 9.30 pm and 11 pm, he said.

The police took Haokip to a hospital where he was treated. The doctors told the police that he had suffered a deep cut on his forehead which needs stitches, besides injuries on his hand, shoulders, leg and back.

After the treatment, Haokip was brought to the police station and he made a complaint. Meantime, the police apprehended all the three suspects, identified as Arun Kumar, James, both from Byrathi, and Karuna, a resident of Geddanahalli. They were produced before a magistrate on Wednesday, the police said.

A senior police officer said, “The victims were talking in English with some of his friends at the eatery. But the suspects thought they were teasing them and this provoked them to attack him and his friends. Hundreds of students from abroad and other states live in this particular area. Most of the time, the unemployed local youth, who keep lazing around the area, pick up fights with these students and extort money from them. If they fail to pay up, they start assaulting them. The students are also mugged during the night and cannot roam around freely.”

According to the officer, local residents had also complained that the students create ruckus. “We are trying to meet the various organisations of northeastern and foreign students as well as the college management. We will come up with certain guidelines,” he added.

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