Tourist in India forced to write apology letter over Hindu goddess tattoo

An Australian couple said they were harassed in southern India Saturday by people who objected to the man’s tattoo of a Hindu goddess.

A crowd gathered around Matt Keith and his girlfriend while they were having lunch at a restaurant in Bangalore, claiming the tattoo on the man's leg offended their religion.

The two were taken to a police station, where Keith was forced to write a letter of apology before they were allowed to leave, Keith explained in a Facebook post.

"I love India which is why we came back to visit," Keith told the Associated Press, explaining he had studied in India years ago. "We have heard about the growing Hindu nationalism, but nothing justifies the way we were treated," he added.

India has seen a rise in incidents of religious intolerance over the past year, with Hindu nationalists trying to create a more Hindu-centric country.

Keith said he also had a tattoo of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha on his back.

Keith said he did not think he had done anything wrong.

"I should not have to apologize for what is on my skin and be put in a traumatizing situation where it is apparently acceptable to be harassed, threatened and mobbed," he wrote on Facebook.

Bangalore's deputy commissioner of police said Monday that an investigation had been ordered into the incident and its handling by local police.

"If police forced the couple to give an apology, it is a serious matter," Sandeep Patil told reporters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.