Friday, March 31, 2017

India's Afrophobia

Attacks on Africans have raised concerns about an alarming trend of hate crimes and racism in India. The violence has forced the Africans to stay indoors and not venture out for their own safety. An estimated 40,000 Nigerians live in India. According to government data, they make up the fifth-largest group of foreign students in India - only one place behind Sudanese students. Most of these Nigerian students choose to live in big cities and constitute a significant chunk of India's medical tourists. They have often complained of facing racist taunts on the streets.

On Monday, March 27, hundreds of people in New Delhi went on a mob rampage and attacked several African students. The violence was sparked by allegations that five African students were involved in the drug trade and the overdose death of a young Indian boy. Police arrested the five but then released them citing a lack of evidence. It was not the first time that Africans living India have faced brutal attacks. Attacks on Africans have been relatively common in India in recent years. Experts say these incidents reflect on the growing xenophobia and a deep-rooted racism in Indian society against "dark-skinned" people. Last year, a Congolese man was beaten to death in Delhi. The Congolese teacher was lynched by three people over a rickshaw hiring dispute.  Prior to that, a Tanzanian woman was attacked in the southern city of Bangalore.  A Sudanese man's car ran over and killed a local woman. India has the highest number of road accidents in the world, but such was the resulting anger against Africans that a day later, the locals dragged the woman out of her car, stripped her clothes and paraded her naked, assaulting her when she tried to escape. In October last year, three African students were assaulted inside Delhi's local train station. The reason, allegedly, was that one of them had harassed an Indian woman. Sexual harassment of women in Delhi is quite common, but when African students were accused of committing the crime, they were made to pay a price. In 2015, six Africans were beaten up by a mob in New Delhi.

Precious Amalawa and his younger brother Endurance, who are from Nigeria and study at the Noida International University, are still in a state of shock after being attacked by a 100-strong mob at a public mall. "I thought I was going to die. The mob was uncontrollable and it's a miracle we are alive.” Precious Amalawa told DW.
His younger brother Endurance is also traumatized by the experience. "How can we live peacefully now? The fear of being attacked will always lurk. It is frightening," he said.

 Many social media users justified the attacks and hurled racist slurs against the Africans. Some even accused them of "cannibalism" and "drug racketeering." Suhas Chakma, director of the New-Delhi based Asian Center for Human Rights, believes the "prejudice" against Africans is linked to India's caste-based system.
"Let us admit that we are a racist country. The government is doing nothing to provide a sense of security not only to Africans but to all foreigners. The country immediately needs an anti-racism law," Chakma told DW.

The racist attacks are not restricted to Africans; even the students from India's northeastern region complain that they are being discriminated against because of their "Chinese looks."
"We face racism because we look different. I can relate to my African colleagues. The parliament needs to pass an anti-racism law," Alana Golmei, an Indian student from the northeastern region, told DW.

Samuel Abiye Jack, president of the Association of African Students in India, said the African people living in India are "tired of the government's promises."
"We will organize a nationwide protest. We will also tell African students not to come to India to pursue higher education," Jack told DW.
The African governments have repeatedly condemned the attacks on their students in India and have demanded New Delhi to take measures to protect them. The latest mob rampage is likely to sour India's diplomatic ties with African nations even further.
Africans living in other countries which are not their countries of origin are grimly accustomed to invectives like "fucking foreigner"; "parasite"; "alien"; "refugee", etc. But it appears matters have been getting out of hand in recent years.  The colour of fellow-workers’ skins is of no importance.  Only by rejecting the myths of national and racial identity can the world be won by and for all of its inhabitants. As knowledge of the real cause of our problems (capitalism) and the real basis of our strength (class unity) develop, the wretched appeal of the racists and xenophobes will evaporate and the air will once and for all be cleared of the stench which has given rise to it.


The World Socialist Party (India): 257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086,
Tel: 2425-0208,

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