Unrepentant Somnath Bharti returns to warn Africans to follow law

Delhi law minister Somanth Bharti returned to the Khirki extension area on Sunday and held a janta darbar warning foreigners who didn't follow the law, reports the Hindustan Times.

The Minister and his AAP 'volunteers' had led 'raids' in the South Delhi colony on Wednesday and Thursday night against Africans who the residents allege were running a drugs and prostitution racket. The actions of the Minister and his volunteers have come under scathing criticism for the racist overtones of the 'raids' and also over allegations that two Ugandan women were manhandled and forced to give urine samples to doctors over drug abuse charges.

Somanth Bharti, in his latest diatribe told residents of Khirki Extension that, “Good people, irrespective of their nationality, who are here to study or work, they will be welcomed. However, if they dance naked, sell drugs and run sex rackets, then there won’t be anyone worse than us. These people will have to leave.”

 Unrepentant Somnath Bharti returns to warn Africans to follow law

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Bharti seems to have support of the crowd and according to the report in HT, the residents too had conducted a sting called, "‘black beauty’, to find proof of prostitution and drugs."

Racist overtones and bias aside, the minister still hasn't given any proof of whether the men and women were actually involved in a drugs and prostitution racket. All of his arguments seem to be based on what the residents have said.

As Adita Nigam wrote in a piece on Kafila,, "the minister’s highly objectionable othering of the Africans who are our guests – and until otherwise proven guilty of some specific crime – must be treated with utmost respect. Not only did the minister not show the minimum respect that hospitality demands, he in fact gave free expression to his basest prejudices – of racism and xenophobia when he said “they are not like you or me”... Simply because the minister receives complaints from such neighbours – whose attitudes about purity and vice are among other things, structured by their caste position as well – he cannot afford to jump into the act without any thought and reflection." Read full Kafila piece here.

Bharti's raids are both objectionable and a significant overreach of the law. The problem is made worse by the fact that Arvind Kejriwal too continues to call the episode a 'drug and sex racket' and sees absolutely nothing wrong with the fact that his minister marched into someone's residence and threatened the inhabitants with no warrant. The incident smacks of moral policing, xenophobia and will only encourage the prejudice that all Africans engage in drug peddling and prostitution.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police on Sunday lodged an FIR against "unknown" people for creating ruckus during last week's midnight raids. "A FIR has been registered against unknown accused in Malviya Nagar police station under various charges dealing with wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation and act intended to insult the modesty of a woman," a police officer said.

According to the police, Metropolitan Magistrate Chetna Singh has ordered registration of a case against unknown people, part of the raid team, led by Bharti. "However, Bharti's name is not mentioned in the complaint but we will ask the complainant to identify the law minister and others in the video footage," a police official said.

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Updated Date: Jan 20, 2014 09:49:28 IST