Two Americans who tried to greet local women on New Year's were beaten up by passersby who perceived the gesture to be offensive.
Russelcay Francis, 48, and John Douglas, 47, and another unnamed comrade, who work 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. Police said Russelcay, Douglas and their friend were dancing on the road, inebriated, wishing passersby New Year.
Excited over the reciprocation they were receiving from two-wheeler riders, the three started shaking hands with women. At one stage, it was alleged that they started kissing local women.
Shocked and frightened by their behavior, 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 behavior, local people caught hold of two of the foreigners and thrashed them till police intervened. The police took them to hospital for treatment. The third seaman is missing.
Tuticorin Central Police station sources said Francis and 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.