By Maya Palit
In the last week, horrific reports are surfacing of violence against a Nigerian community in Noida. Rumours that a young Indian student, Manish Khari (who later died of an apparent drug overdose) was missing, and had last been seen in the company of his Nigerian neighbours, led a hostile mob of locals to attack the Nigerians, claiming that they were cannibals who’d deliberately kidnapped Khari. The police initially booked the group of five Nigerian students for murder, but eventually had to let them go because of the lack of evidence.
Predictably, though, this incident has led to another spurt of arbitrary and unprovoked violence against people from African communities. Last evening, during a candlelight vigil for Khari, up to four African people (most of them are apparently from Nigeria) were attacked in Greater Noida. And even more alarming is the news that a Nigerian woman went missing, and was later located in a hospital, and had apparently been badly beaten up. In the meantime, a video being circulated online depicts the brutality that was unleashed yesterday against a group of African people in Ansal Plaza mall, Greater Noida.
It’s hardly news that people from African countries have faced discrimination and immense hostility in various quarters of India, and just last year a Tanzanian woman was stripped and attacked by a mob in Bengaluru. But with the current spate of brutality escalating, the reality is that it is becoming increasingly unsafe for African students living in India. And that’s why we have to stand with the Association of African Students in India, as it declares that until there is a severe crackdown on the people exacting this violence with impunity, and a genuine effort made by government officials to investigate the racist incidents against African communities, India should stop being considered the ideal study destination for African students.