It’s not new a phenomenon at all, but it sure has got intensified like never before. Racist violence against African students in India added a new chapter to its long and inglorious history of cultural sickness when residents of the National Security Guards Black Cat Enclave barged into a flat of five Nigerian students in search of a missing boy, not before accusing them of eating human meat!
As if cannibalism were a peculiar African trait (whatever that means, since we’re referring to not a country but the second-largest continent on Earth), the assaults that followed since then, with video clips of African students getting beaten up in a Greater Noida mall taking the social media by storm, have only vitiated the atmosphere of poisonous India-brand racism.
In Greater Noida’s busy locality Pari Chowk, many gathered to protest against the Class 12 student, Manish Khari, who died under mysterious circumstances, but actually, it would seem, to rage against the presence of African students in the area.
Sorry World.We are not like this.Shocking incidents in Greater Noida.3 attacks on Nigerian people in one day.Where we heading?See video. pic.twitter.com/LmjHfa4CvW— Narendra nath mishra (@iamnarendranath) March 27, 2017
Disturbing reports of mob violence against #African students coming in from pari chowk in #greaterNoida. @Uppolice @noidapolice please note— Neha Dixit (@nehadixit123) March 27, 2017
Exactly as meat shops in Uttar Pradesh are being targeted as the newly-crowned chief minister flip-flops on the issue of slaughterhouses in his state, as “Anti-Romeo squads” are unleashed on unsuspecting couples enjoying a bit of the open road, the latest episode of rank violence has jolted the entire country out of its normally high-octane communal complacence.
After Attack In Greater Noida, Nigerian Student Tweets Sushma Swaraj, She Calls UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath https://t.co/uuUjSNcQ1B— Gargi Rawat (@GargiRawat) March 28, 2017
It’s time to acknowledge that bigotry in India isn’t limited to religion: in fact, it gets amplified and finds a collective sanction when it comes to attacking black people living in India.
Last year, black women students in Bangalore were publicly assaulted, after being forced out of her car. In January 2014, the then AAP law minister of Delhi Somnath Bharti led a midnight mob against Nigerian residents of Khirki Extension citing law and order problem.
#African students brutally attacked by mob in #greaterNoida. @SushmaSwaraj @rajnathsingh pic.twitter.com/ClOOcls0Mi— Neha Dixit (@nehadixit123) March 27, 2017
However, the clips of Indian men mercilessly kicking and assaulting African students have brought home the fact of everyday racism simmering in India, which a tiny poke can bring over to the surface.
It is so bad that the Association of African Students in India put up a Facebook advisory asking its members to not go out if they are residing in the Greater Noida area.
“You are advised to not attend any lecture until we are granted maximum security,” the post said.
If hate crimes & racist attacks against Indians in US & Australia outrage you then so must the attack on Nigerians This cannot be tolerated https://t.co/hqGisP7c7Q— Shehzad Poonawalla (@Shehzad_Ind) March 28, 2017
Even though Union minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj has asked UP CM Yogi Adityanath to submit a report, and has assured a “fair and impartial investigation into the unfortunate incident”, we need to understand that the tightrope between official niceties and rabid racism on the streets is something that the respective BJP governments – both at the Centre and at the state level – are experts at walking.
He has assured that there will be a fair and impartial investigation into this unfortunate incident. /2— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 28, 2017
India houses a number of African nationals – from Nigerians, to Somalis, to Ugandans, Cameroonians, and many others, who come to study and often work in this country. India’s relatively cheap and Anglophone higher education system is a lure for many black students to pursue their university dreams here.
2/n Why can't PM + CMs of Delhi, Karnataka, UP, Punjab, Goa etc say aloud 'African students r our guests, say No to racist abuse, attacks'?— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) March 28, 2017
Those defending racist attacks on Nigerians in UP and elsewhere in India in the name of 'drug trade' allegations, pl read my post pic.twitter.com/IOlUCTKv7v— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) March 28, 2017
But the daily insidious or overt racism that Africans face in India is really without a parallel. That’s because in the West, both black and brown bodies are equally policed, and therefore solidarities exist across sections and communities.
When a lone racist attacks an Indian abroad it becomes country's only news. But, India chooses to ignore when its own mob attacks foreigners https://t.co/jyyJRjPutH— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) March 28, 2017
For example, when the Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibholta was gunned down in Kansas City, Texas in after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, solidarity from Black Lives Matter movement was overwhelming.
It is another matter than non-resident Indians in the West are themselves conduits of racism – both receiving and perpetuating it with élan – as the self-centred urge to turn themselves into “model minorities” denudes the Indian American community of radical political edge oftentimes.
Videos of attack on Nigerian youth at Greater Noida are disgusting and shocking. Mob has taken over. Ashamed as an Indian— Ashish Fail (@AshishNBT) March 27, 2017
Banners at Pari Chowk seeking "Nigerian-free Greater Noida".Yeah, right! We want "fair & lovely" India.Sorry, Srinivas Kuchibhotla!— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) March 28, 2017
Racism is what happens to Indians in US, Australia, UK. What happens here is a law & order problem #Racism #GreaterNoida #AfricanStudents— Jasoos Kutty (@JasoosKutty) March 28, 2017
That said, what happened in Greater Noida is unpardonable, but perhaps not unexpected. In a simmering cauldron of communal tensions, when Muslims, particularly Muslim meat-packers selling buffalo meat, are hounded and shuttered down, the slightest of tangential movement leads the majority bigots to assault the other meat-eating minority community within them – the blacks.