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Attack against Africans exposes racism; puts India on defensive
Rohit Chandavarkar | Monday, 3 April 2017 AT 09:39 PM IST
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While Indians are seen raising the issue of racist attacks against people of Indian origin in the United States and some parts of Europe in the past few weeks, the Indian government has now been pushed on the defensive as diplomats from African countries have come together to protest the beating up of Nigerian and other African citizens in Delhi and other cities of India.

In their view, the government has failed to control the violence against their citizens.  

The video footage of this attack is quite shocking and it clearly exposes how a large section of Indians have deep rooted racist tendencies. The victim has been surrounded by several members of the mob and being thrashed even as he is seen fallen on the ground in a helpless condition. Whatever the altercation between the Africans and locals which may have led to this conflict, no justification can be given for this brutal beating.



“India has failed to take sufficient and visible deterring measures to protect Africans from attacks”, a group of ambassadors from African countries told the media on Monday, asking for an international inquiry. In a major diplomatic embarrassment for Delhi, they said the attacks are racial and last week’s cases were ‘not sufficiently condemned’ by Indian officials.  

Last week, Nigerians were thrashed in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh, just across the border from Delhi, after a schoolboy’s death was linked to drugs; residents of the sprawling suburb alleged that Africans living there had sold him the drugs. Five Nigerian students who were arrested in connection with the case were released after the police found no evidence to link them to the crime. But a crowd that had assembled for a candlelit vigil to demand justice for the teenager turned violent after spotting a group of Nigerians in a car and hit it with sticks.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that she had spoken to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and sought a report on the horrific assault, part of which was filmed and posted on social media. Last week, the Foreign Ministry said it would not call the attacks racial till the investigation progressed and offered more information.

Video footage showed a mob attacking a car, while in another clip, dozens of men assaulted Nigerian shoppers in a mall. The incident made headlines in Nigeria, with India’s ambassador summoned for questioning in Abuja as Delhi labelled the incident ‘deplorable’.

Hundreds of African students live in Greater Noida, where there are several popular universities, engineering colleges and other educational institutions. Security has been increased, with police assisting African students with their shopping runs and escorting them to class. The police have identified roughly 60 people from the footage of the attack who they plan to charge with rioting and unlawful assembly. Six people have been arrested so far. But the incident has exposed the ugly face of mob brutality in India’s national capital. It’s not some village in medieval India where this violence has taken place but its right in the heart of the national capital in the 21st century that this shocking incident has happened. The administration and law enforcement must put their resources to work to ensure that such violence is restricted and India should not face diplomatic ire because of such events.

- ROHIT CHANDAVARKAR
 
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