Bangalore, Jan. 10: A young waiter from Arunachal Pradesh, who joined a Bangalore pub late last year, was found bruised and semi-conscious minutes after he had left his workplace on Saturday, triggering suspicions of another race-related incident in the tech city.
Police sources said there were no eyewitnesses, nor any conclusive CCTV footage to back up their initial suspicions of a hit-and-run. But they ruled out robbery as a motive as the man's mobile phone and wallet were still on him when a night patrol van found him lying on the road.
"We are yet to find any evidence to say anything. But we immediately filed an FIR on a complaint filed by (the city's Northeast) community members who suspected it could be a racially motivated incident," deputy commissioner of police (south-east) M.B. Boralingaiah said.
Doctors at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), where Khuadun Khangham has been admitted, said the condition of the 22-year-old had improved.
According to the police sources, Khangham, who arrived in the Karnataka capital four months ago to work as a waiter, had left the southeast Bangalore pub around 1.50am on Saturday.
They said he must have walked just 10 minutes towards his accommodation in Ejipura, a lower-middle class area nearby, before the patrol van found him lying semi-conscious with bruises all over.
"The spot where he was found and the time he left the pub leaves nothing to doubt as he would have walked for hardly 10 minutes (to reach that point)," Boralingaiah said.
Khangham was immediately taken to NIMHANS as he had apparently taken a hit on the head. "The doctors today told us he is out of danger but could take some days to get normal," the officer added.
NIMHANS medical superintendent V. Bhadrinarayan said Khangham was stable now. "He has opened his eyes and started moving his limbs. He doesn't suffer from any problems that require surgery," the doctor told this newspaper.
Some city residents from the Northeast said they suspected a racial angle to the incident since people from the region have been targeted in the past. "I feel it was a racial attack as there was no other possible reason for such a nasty assault," Toko John, president of the All Arunachal Students' Union of Karnataka, told The Telegraph.
In August 2012, special trains had to be deployed to take home thousands of people from the Northeast who fled the city following a series of threatening text messages. Several local people were later arrested for spreading panic.
In November 2015, a Manipuri student, Samuel Haokip, was beaten up in north Bangalore. Three local youths were later arrested. Earlier that year, in March, some African students were roughed up by a mob. The assault took place around the same area. In February 2016, another group of Africans, including a woman, was targeted by a mob, also in north Bangalore.
Northeast community leader Simant Sharma, who was among the first to visit Khangham in hospital, said: "It's obvious that he took a heavy knock on his head although at this stage we can't be sure what or who hit him."
"Until he (Khangham) starts talking, we can only pray that the police find some evidence to find out how he ended up in a hospital bed," Sharma added.