Lucknow: So much for ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’! An Argentinian who leads the life of an ascetic in Varanasi city escaped with bruises on her face and shoulders while fighting off three men on Saturday, her late-evening meditation by the Ganga ending in a nightmare of assault and robbery.
The 38-year-old was eventually spared being sexually assaulted but not before she had offered the men Rs 1,000 to leave her alone.
The riverside attack was the third on foreigners in a week in and around Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP swept to power early this year.
“The Argentine woman had gone to Bhelupur police station after the incident,” city SP Dinesh Kumar Singh said. “But she didn’t submit a written application. Still, we are trying to identify the criminals.”
The victim, who works for an NGO and has been living as an ascetic in the Bhadaini area of Varanasi city for the past 12 years, told the police she had hired a boat from Assi Ghat at 4pm, as she usually does, to reach the other side of the river.
“I reached the opposite side of Assi Ghat in a few minutes and was doing prayer there. Three youths appeared there around 6pm and started assaulting me. They left me when I begged them to spare me because I live the life of a sadhvi. In return, I offered them to take the Rs 1,000 that I had kept in my bag. They took the money and escaped from there,” police sources quoted her as saying.
She later called one of her Indian associates, who reached the spot and brought her to the city.
The police said the woman was respected in Varanasi city as she helps the poor and had financed over a dozen people to set up shops along the riverbank.
On December 10, some French tourists and their three Indian companions where attacked in the Ahraura area of Mirzapur, 35km from Varanasi. Three persons were arrested in the case.
Three days ago, a fake Indian guide drugged a Japanese tourist and stole his valuables in the Sarnath area of Varanasi.