The Stream

Racism against Africans in India

How can they feel safe amid racially motivated attacks?

“We saw some Indians running towards us, and my brother told me, Endurance – start running!”

Brothers Endurance and Precious Amalawa were strolling with a friend through a shopping mall in a New Delhi suburb, when suddenly a mob of Indian students violently assaulted them. What was their crime?  Being black.

In the latest attack against African nationals in India, the three young men were punched, kicked, and attacked with objects like steel dustbins and tables as Endurance cried for help and people stood by and watched. Cell phone video of the incident went viral after being posted on the Association of African Students in India Facebook page.

The attackers were among hundreds of people who went on a violent rampage targeting Africans in Greater Noida, where an Indian teenager died of a suspected drug overdose. Mobs formed after rumours circulated that Nigerians supplied him with drugs. After Manish Khari’s death, signs sprang up overnight calling for Nigerians to go back to Africa. And when Indian students at a vigil for Khari spotted a group of Nigerian students nearby, they attacked.

Police have opened an investigation and made multiple arrests and say more are coming.  Amid reports of threats to African students in the wake of the beatings, police have dispatched security to hostels and universities. But officials say the attacks are not racially motivated. The Indian government and the police have assured African embassies they are taking necessary steps to protect African nationals.

Black students are frequently targets of assaults and beatings, particularly around India’s universities, where tens of thousands of Africans from Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya and other countries come to study and find a better life. So far, there has been no long-term solution to making minorities in India safer.  

Last July, Masonda Ketada Olivera, a Congolese man, was beaten to death in a fight over hiring an auto rickshaw, prompting a flurry of statements and promises from the government amid outrage from African embassies. African envoys said that case and others are frequently unresolved. Now, they have written a sharply worded letter urging the Human Rights Council of the United Nations to investigate.

The Stream discusses what life is like for Africans in India, and asks what can be done to make them feel safer.

On this episode of The Stream, we’ll speak to: 

Mahesh Shantaram @thecontrarian

Sadiq Bello @Sadiq8800

Mina Wumbey @MWumbey

Tarun Vijay @Tarunvijay
Member, BJP National

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.