The Centre on Tuesday pulled up the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government after a Swiss couple was allegedly attacked in Agra on Sunday. The news came at a time when the chief minister was in Agra, and the city was turned into a fortress with extra force deployment.
Police arrested five youths from Fatehpur Sikri, who attacked the couple leaving them battered and bruised after which all of them were nabbed. Three out of the five arrested are underage boys, reports said.
UP Secretary (Home) Bhagwan Swarup tonight said that five people were found to be involved in the incident.
"All five have been arrested/apprehended. Prima facie, two appear be major and the rest three minors," he said in a statement.
Dr Rajendra Prasad, neurosurgeon at the Apollo Hospital in Delhi where the couple was admitted, said Clerc has been shifted to the ward from the ICU. He said Droz has a fracture in her arm but has been discharged after treatment.
"We have moved him(Clerc) out of the ICU into a room. He is having a hearing problem otherwise he is conscious and talking," said Prasad, adding it is difficult to say at this stage whether he has suffered permanent hearing damage.
"He's improving but we will have to see in the long term," he said. Prasad said the duo is in a state of shock and that Droz is at present with her male friend.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has sought a report from the state government while Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma expressed concern that such incidents damage India's image as a tourist destination. Union Minister of State for Tourism KJ Alphons also wrote to the Uttar Pradesh government expressing concern over the 'unfortunate incident.' Alphons also urged Adityanath to hold a speedy inquiry into the incident and the bring the perpetrators to justice.
"I have just seen this. I have asked for a report from the state government," Swaraj said in a tweet attaching a news report of the attack on the Swiss couple.
The minister also said that officials of the External Affairs Ministry will visit the couple in the hospital.
Sharma also condemned the attack saying that it was a matter of shame for Indians. "I think the foreign minister has reacted to it. It's a matter of law and order but as the culture minister and as a human being I condemn the attack on the foreign tourists. It's unfortunate, should not have happened. It's a matter of shame for us," Sharma told PTI.
Alphons, too, expressed concern over the incident in his letter to Adityanath. "You would kindly appreciate that such incidents negatively impact our image and are detrimental to our efforts in promoting India as a tourism destination. "A fast and speedy response in identifying and ensuring speedy action, including the conviction of the guilty, would be reassuring, as also a good message of our efforts to prevent recurrence of such incidents," the minister has written in his letter to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.
Quentin Jeremy Clerc, 24, and his girlfriend Marie Droz, also 24, from Lausanne were chased and attacked with stones and sticks by a group of youths in Fatehpur Sikri. The couple was strolling near the railway station in Fatehpur Sikri — a city founded by Mughal emperor Akbar in the 16th century and a major tourist attraction — after a day in Agra when the group started following them. The two were found on the ground, bloodied and bruised even as bystanders made videos of their plight.
"They initially passed comments, which we didn't understand, and then forced us to stop so they could take selfies with Marie," Jeremy was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
The mob later attacked the couple so mercilessly that, according to Hindustan Times, the male victim was left with a fractured skull and nerve damage, and the woman with broken bones.
The couple also dismissed as "rumours" reports that they were kissing, which "instigated the crowd", said The Times of India.
The doctor attending the couple, according to The Financial Express, said that the blow which struck Jeremy in his ear was so strong that it has caused him hearing impairment. The medics attending to the couple, however, added that it was difficult to say whether the damage to cleric's ear was permanent.
"He's improving but we will have to see in the long term," said the doctor. He added that Droz was at present is with her friend, the doctor said, adding that the duo is in shock after the incident.
The city police lodged an FIR suo motu against four people on 22 October after someone dialled 100 and informed about the incident. The couple were reportedly scared after the incident and were reluctant to file a police complaint. Three minors have been arrested so far and a hunt is on to nab one other in the case, the police said.
Asked about the accused, the Additional Director General (ADG) Crime Chandra Prakash said, "Initial reports said that some of them are minor. But as the probe is on, it will not be fair to disclose their names."
"As the couple did not lodge any FIR, police suo motu lodged an NCR (non-cognisable report) in the matter," he said, adding that after medical report found a fracture in the arm of one of the tourists, relevant sections of the IPC were included in the FIR.
The couple was quoted as saying in a media report that they were strolling near the railway station at Fatehpur Sikri after a day in Agra when a group of youths started following them and later attacked. The couple said as they lay on the ground bloodied and bruised, bystanders began taking videos of them on their mobile phones, the report said.
When asked as to why the DGP was kept in the dark about the incident, the ADG said, "In case of any incident related to foreigners, local police has to immediately intimate the police headquarters. We will probe why this information did not come and action will be initiated against the guilty." Taking note of the incident, a report has been sought from the district magistrate and SSP, Agra, an official spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Samajwadi Party too was quick to take on the BJP-led state government, which had used law and order situation in the former's tenure as a key agenda in the Assembly polls held earlier this year. BJP had often flayed the Samajwadi Party government for failing to curb the "goonda raj" in the state.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also attacked the state government for its "failure" on law and order front, "It must be BJP men behind the incident. Some people performed puja in Taj Mahal premises wearing saffron clothes. They want to ruin tourism of the country. I challenge BJP to remove the Taj Mahal from the list of heritage sites and seven wonders," Akhilesh charged at the BJP.
According to the National Crimes Records Bureau, crimes against foreign tourists visiting India have reduced by 29.4 percent.
In 2014, there were 384 cases of crimes against foreign tourists reported from across the country. This came down to 271 in 2015. These findings are part of the first analytical report on crimes against foreign tourists furnished by the tourism ministry in the backdrop of a global outcry over attacks on tourists in India. NCRB started profiling crimes against foreign tourists in 2014.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Oct 27, 2017 12:15 PM