Accusing Nigerians of cannibalism exposes the ugly Indian truth
Racial discrimination is just another manifestation of the deep-entrenched prejudice in the country.
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When a Class 12 student went missing from a locality in Greater Noida on March 24, residents of the National Security Guards Black Cat Enclave allegedly barged into a flat of five Nigerian students in search of the missing boy. They first thing they did was to search their refrigerator.
What were they looking for? Well, this time it wasn't beef, but human meat as the residents suspected the African students of cannibalism. They were searching for the remains of the deceased, Manish Singh.
The next morning, Manish was found lying in a park nearby and later admitted to a private hospital, where he died on (March 25) due to cardiac arrest, caused allegedly due to drug overdose.It also couldn't get more ironical considering the age-old ties between India and Africa based on anti-racism and anti-colonialism, not to forget the growing bilateral relations with Africa. (Credit: PTI file photo)
But following a complaint by the deceased's family members, the Greater Noida police on March 26 booked the Nigerians in connection with the death. Although initial evidence suggested that the teenager overdosed on drugs, the police said they booked the African students on suspicion of drugging the 19-year-old.
Following the incident, African students, led by the Association of African Students in India (AASI), staged protests outside the Greater Noida's Kasna police station, saying the five were wrongly framed. The police, on the other hand, assured the protesting students that they will take action only after investigating the matter.
"We have registered an FIR based on the complaints filed by victim's family members. As per our preliminary investigation, we have not found any previous history of victim's drug addiction. We have also not found any direct link between the victim and the accused. We are still investigating the matter," said Abhinandan, circle officer, Greater Noida I, was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
When the clue to every crime is stored in a refrigerator
Just like the scourge of Islamophobia, Afrophobia is another epidemic that has engulfed Indian cities for long. There have been a number of incidents in the recent past to safely conclude that the multi-layered prejudices of Indians against religious, sexual, gender and racial minorities are on full display.
For the citizens of "New India" it's the "others" living amid them who are responsible for any misery that befalls them.
Considering the times we are living in, it's actually not strange that Manish's neighbours went and raided the Nigerians' refrigerator as their first reaction.
Sample this: According to The Telegraph report, a resident of the enclave told TV channels yesterday: "I have known Manish for nine years and he was a good boy studying for his 12th board exams. His mother Mamta told me that he had refused to talk to the Negroes when they waved to him two days before the incident. Recently, two dogs went missing. The Africans may have eaten them up."
"They accused them of being cannibals. That is the kind of ignorance against black people," Samuel Jack, the president of the Association of African Students in India (AASI), was quoted as saying by told The Telegraph.
Racial discrimination is just another manifestation of the various forms of violence in India as a result of the deep-entrenched prejudice that runs across caste, region, religion to gender.
And just like the commonplace violence against minority groups, including women, sporadic incidents against “vulnerable” people include frequent attacks on Africans living in India.
From racial jokes to comments on their skin colour and being branded as "drug-traffickers", Africans living in Indian metro cities are often subjected to the worst forms of violence.
Role of the government
India, despite being a country with the largest diaspora communities, doesn't seem to be worried much. Because despite repeated attacks on Africans living in India, the official denial in the past— that such acts are not racially motivated — only shows the unwillingness to tackle the real problem and accept the fact that even racism exists in India.
Following a spate of attacks on African nationals in India, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj last year had said, the incidents were “criminal acts and not racial".
“These were not premeditated acts against a particular community, rather these were spontaneous attacks perpetrated by anti-social and criminal elements,” she had said.
The Indian government's "non-committal" position was also widely criticised in the backdrop of India-Africa Summit in 2015.
It also couldn't get more ironical considering the age-old ties between India and Africa based on anti-racism and anti-colonialism, not to forget the growing bilateral relations with Africa in the fields of trade and technology.
Notwithstanding the government's "unwillingness" to admit the scourge, there is certainly something more deeper and sinister at the heart of such bias — the great Indian mentality. We perhaps take too much pride in our culture and heritage that blinds us towards the human aspects of living in a society with different kinds of people.
Indians perhaps can no longer tolerate the presence of the outsiders who "invaded" and "polluted" the Indian culture. But then perhaps the "new India" is too confident that it doesn't need anyone else, at least not anyone outside what they view as India and Indian-ness.
The facade of a tolerant "new India" — a "bhavya" and "divya" Bharat — indeed seems to be crumbling fast.