While instances of local people molesting foreign women are well known during festivals and celebrations, this time, an instance of local women being at the receiving end has come to light.
An attempt to greet local women on New Year's in a way Westerners generally do has landed two Americans in serious trouble. Offended, passersby took the duo to task by beating them black and blue.
US citizens Russelcay Francis (48) and John Douglas (47), and another comrade, working as security personnel in a cargo ship, were in Tuticorin as their ship was anchored in the port.
On New Year's eve, after having a couple of drinks at a hotel where they were staying, they went to Palayamkottai-Tuticorin road. It was said that Russelcay, John and their friend were dancing on the road, inebriated, wishing passers by for New Year. Excited over the reciprocation they were receiving from two-wheeler riders, the three started shaking hands with women, wishing them.
At one stage, it was alleged that they started kissing local women. Shocked and frightened by their behaviour, the women started running away while local people who witnessed the incident were angered. Earlier, the Americans attempted to enter a local temple with shoes and beer bottles, which irked locals.
Agitated over their behaviour, local people caught hold of two of the foreigners and thrashed them till the Tuticorin Central police intervened. The police took them to hospital for treatment. The third seaman is, however, absconding.
Tuticorin Central Police station sources said Russelcay Francis and John Douglas were brothers from California. A case has been registered against them for harassing women as well as under Section 295A for hurting religious beliefs because they attempted to enter the Prasannavinayagar temple in the area with shoes and beer bottles.
Russelcay and John were admitted to the government hospital for treatment and later shifted to a private hospital. Police also booked cases against a few unidentified persons from the Palayamkoatti Road area for attacking the foreigners, they said.
Tuticorin SP J Rajendran told TOI that the foreign nationals had come to Tuticorin as additional security staff for the cargo vessel. Local people attacked them when their behaviour with women became offensive.