Racism in Delhi


The following piece may be upsetting for some readers. TW// violence, racism, racial discrimination.

On September 20, 2023, a racially-motivated attack in Vijayanagara left a North-Eastern student from Hindu College critically injured on his way to a football match, leading to the team’s match forfeiture. The incident prompted condemnation and calls for unity against discrimination against Northeast students and individuals in Delhi.

On September 20, 2023, a football match was scheduled to occur at the DDA Sports Ground in Vasant Kunj, Delhi, with the combined teams of Hindu College and Ramjas College against Hansraj College. Unfortunately, en route to the match, the football captain, a North-Eastern student from Hindu College, was brutally assaulted in a racially motivated attack by a mob in New Gupta Colony, Vijayanagara.

On the way to the metro station, the student was subjected to derogatory racial slurs. Following a verbal altercation, a group of local individuals arrived on a motorcycle and escalated the situation further. The victim was physically attacked with a knife, sustaining injuries to his neck, forehead, and facial areas. The severity of the attack left him in critical condition, requiring immediate medical attention.

The authorities have identified the four perpetrators and arrested them accordingly. Due to the attack, the football team was forced to forfeit the match as well, resulting in their disqualification from further participation in the tournament. A witness who observed the incident from their balcony, remarked:

Everything unfolded in the blink of an eye… Surprisingly, very few individuals rushed to assist, and by that time, it was nearly over.

In light of the incident, the North-East Cell of Hindu College issued a statement condemning the incident and urging concerned authorities to take strict action. In a post on Instagram dated September 20, 2023, they made the following statement:

We are deeply saddened and outraged by the racially motivated attack against a North-eastern student from Hindu College. Such acts of violence and discrimination have no place in our society as a whole. In the face of hatred, we must unite as a community to fight against racism, discrimination, and violence and hatred.

Several organisations, including SFI Hindu College, WDC Hindu College, and the North East Society of Zakir Hussain Delhi College (M), have issued statements in solidarity with the victim. The North-East Cell of Hindu College has issued a statement requesting everyone to respect the privacy of the survivor.

We kindly urge everyone to refrain from sharing any images or information pertaining to this situation. We acknowledge that certain individuals are disseminating such content, so please remain vigilant in safeguarding the survivor’s privacy and preventing any disrespectful conduct. The relevant authorities are actively addressing this issue, and we are committed to ensuring that the perpetrators face the most severe penalties possible.

This incident is not an isolated one but rather sheds light on the discrimination faced by Northeastern students and individuals in Delhi. Another student from Hindu College urged,

I personally am deeply distressed and agitated by the incident happening today since I have faced the same kind of racism in Delhi. This victim is a warrior, a true hero who fights not just for himself but all NE students who have been racially abused, mocked and ridiculed. What I want to let you all know is that being students of DU, such kind of actions show a person’s lack of respect towards other humans and the intention to hurt their sentiments. I’m not asking for any special care and pampering here but let us all treat each other equally with truth, justice and peace.

Read also: Hill vs Valley: Humanitarian Catastrope through the Eyes of Manipuri Students

Featured Image Credits: DU Beat Photo Archive

Sri Sidhvi Dindi
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The death of a 17-year old boy on the 24th of March in a locality of Greater Noida, and the subsequent accusation of the involvement of five Nigerian students, has led loose a spate of attacks against all Africans living in the area. In such a racially tinged atmosphere, it is time to introspect whether we, as a nation, are as hospitable as we claim to be.
In the wake of several acts of violence that have been perpetrated against people from the African continent, I decided to interview a few Africans studying in Sharda University. It is an international university located in Greater Noida, an area where incidents of brutal violence on innocent African students in public spaces such as malls and bus stops have occurred in recent days. The failure of the government to take any definite action to secure the safety of the students has further contributed to their helplessness. On being questioned about his views on such incidents, a student from South Sudan retorted, “What will you do by getting information? If the government is reluctant to do anything, what can you do?” Another student questioned, “Where is the Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath? Why isn’t he doing anything to help us? Had it been just one American or British student who had been attacked, everyone including the Prime Minister would’ve been actively probing into the matter. Why isn’t it so with African people?”

What started it all

On Friday, the 24th of March 2017, 17 year old Manish Khari, had gone missing from his neighbourhood in Greater Noida. His parents accused five Nigerian students, who lived a single house away from them of having “eaten up” their child and went so far as to raid their refrigerator for possible “remains”. The boy, who was subsequently returned home, later died of a cardiac arrest following a drug overdose. The Nigerian neighbours were now accused of having forcibly drugged him, and were brutally beaten by a mob, and only then detained by the police who acquitted them for lack of evidence.

The fact that the two Nigerians had apparently been spotted taking two dogs into their house a few days earlier, had led the neighbours to make the absurd accusation of cannibalism. Residents of the locality have also complained that the Nigerians were a disturbance to the neighbourhood. However, two Tanzanian neighbours of the boy, Lisa and Jessica, who are temporarily staying in the international hostel at Sharda University for fear of their safety, remarked that prior to this incident, they had not caused disturbances of any kind.

An inhospitable climate for African Students

The impact of such an accusation has been tremendous on the African community in Greater Noida. Students are scared to venture out of their houses for fear of mob violence. Many are trapped within their houses, surviving at a dearth of food and money, while few volunteers have been supplying them with amenities. Those who have been provided accommodation by Sharda University have only been allowed to stay until Saturday, the 1 April 2017, after which they will have to pay 300 USD if they wish to extend their stay.

Around five thousand African nationals study in Greater Noida alone. Indian universities such as Sharda University and Amity University regularly participate in college fairs in African countries to attract students into India. In the case of many students that I’ve spoken to, their perspective of India has been shaped by the many Indians living in their countries, who’ve managed to integrate themselves fairly well. On being asked whether they have the same perspective now, the reply came in a chorus, “No, now we do not want to complete our higher education here. We will also advise other people from our countries not to come here to study. They should opt from countries such as China, where our friends are enjoying themselves freely, whereas we need police escort to even venture out of our colleges at this point of time.”

Possible Impact of such hate crimes on Indo-African relations

A large chunk of the Indian diaspora lives in African countries, many of whom have profitable businesses there. When questioned whether they think that there will be a possible retaliation against Indians living in their own countries, many replied that there were many chances of it happening. In a statement wherein the African Association of Students in India called for government support, they maintained:

“Failure to secure the lives and to ensure ‘maximum security’ in areas where African students live will entail us taking stringent actions:

1.We will actively urge the African Union to cut all bi-lateral trade with India.
2. We will ask African students in our respective countries to stop making India their study destination with immediate effect.
3. We will call for a nationwide protest inviting all Students and people of the African diaspora here in India and as well international media houses for coverage.”

While the government remains in denial about Africans facing racist attacks in India, these incidents shall inevitably hamper the Indian government’s attempts to woo students and medical tourists from the African continent.

A trend of growing intolerance against African students

Reflecting on the immense prejudice that he faces daily, Adam, a South Sudanese student of Sharda University remarked that the adage of Atiti devo bhawa (The guest is akin to god), which acts as a leitmotif in several Indian tourism commercials, should be changed to Atiti kuto bhava (The guest is akin to a dog). Students like him feel that they’re treated like “zoo animals” in public spaces such as the metro, where they’re blatantly stared at and fall victim to lewd, racially charged comments. One student remarked, “Children come up to us and shout “bhoot!” (ghost) before running away.”

It is depressing that we, who as a histocrically colonised nation, have been on the receiving end of racism for hundreds of years, are active proponents of such a crime. The constant “othering” of minorities to assert dominance has rendered India into a racist nation.

Image Credits: Association of African Students in India

Swareena Gurung

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