Multiple Nigerian nationals were attacked and beaten up this week in India following the death of 17-year-old Manish Khari that resulted from a suspected drug overdose. Locals believed the drugs were given to the teen by five local Nigerian students. The parents also said those students were to blame.
The parents filed a police report against those five Nigerian students, who were then detained on Saturday night for suspicion of drug peddling, abduction, and murder. However, further investigation failed to confirm the theory of a drug overdose and the five men were released the following day. After hearing this news, violent protests erupted.
Police officer Amir Dikshit said about 500 to 600 people attacked two students at a mall in Greater Noida on Monday. A video posted online by AASI (Association of African Students in India) shows a mob of men repeatedly beating, kicking, and pounding metal objects on an individual lying on the ground. No one bothered to help. It is a difficult video to watch.
Nigerian students have since been asked to stay indoors. It is an unfortunate reality. When an incident is believed to have been executed by an individual or individuals of a specific racial group, the entire racial group is generalized and attacked. Aliyu, a final year MSc Chemistry student at Noida International University told India Today, “I have been facing ‘immoral’ behaviour ever since I came here. People pointing fingers, laughing at us…what happened yesterday [the unnamed teenager’s “overdose”] is unfortunate… why generalize everyone?”
A separate incident was also reported regarding a Nigerian man who was attacked on Monday. After leaving home to get food, Auwal Aliyu, 27, saw a “gang of men” approach him. He went inside a shop looking for help but the men chased him out of the store and beat him badly. Aliyu had to be hospitalized.
Africans in the area are scared. Abike Dabiri told the CNN that, “The Nigerians that were attacked were completely innocent, they just happened to be black.” Dabiri is Nigeria’s special assistant on foreign affairs and diaspora. “They were worried about a mob that was gathering overnight,” she said.
Racially-charged incidents are becoming a common phenomenon. Individuals fear how they will be perceived due to their ‘different’ look. By now, one would have thought this fear of being judged for the colour of one’s skin or ethnic background would have vanished.
Some Africans say Indians are overlooking the topic of racism for their own safety. This isn’t India’s first encounter with discrimination against Africans. Last May, a Congolese man was beaten to death in Delhi following an argument. Also, in Hyderabad, an Indian man was arrested after attacking a Nigerian student.
Race is playing a clear role in these attacks. Students, or anyone for that matter, should never feel the need to stay indoors for their personal well-being. This crisis should not be okay with India, nor with the rest of the world.
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