It's not just the African students assaulted in Greater Noida over allegations of drug peddling and cannibalism who alleged racial discrimination by Indians on a daily basis. Other Africans make the same allegation.
Alexandra, a Gabonese student who is doing her post-graduation in Spanish from Jawaharlal Nehru University, told Firstpost that racism is deeply entrenched in the Indian society. She said that even JNU, a campus known for its progressive worldview, is not free of racist behaviour. “I got the feeling right at the registration desk in the university. The person standing behind me in the queue, who was from a different race, was called to finish the formality earlier than me,” she said.
Alexandra, who comes from a family of diplomats, told Firstpost that she sits alone even in her class in JNU. “No one wants to sit with me. I do not know why. They kind of exclude me, as they have a group. When they try to exclude me in their conversation, they start talking in Hindi as I do not understand the language,” she said.
Omar Abba, a Nigerian student in the Noida International University, who has been in India for the last seven months, said that a racist word used against him is ‘Bandar’, which he knows means monkey. “I was chased out of a football ground in Noida when I was training myself in the game,” he said.
When she was in her home country, Alexandra said she had a different idea about India and thought it was an exotic country. “It was beyond my dreams that African nationals will have to face such brutal attacks because of their dark skin in India as Indians too have similar skin complexion,” she said. But it did not take long before her notion about India changed completely.
“Some of my friends from Gabon were attacked in a Metro rail in 2014. They were beaten up brutally for no reason at all, and were called monkeys,” she recollected with much pain.
Racist attacks on the African nationals in Noida were preceded by the killing of a Ugandan girl in Bangalore and that of a Congolese teacher in Vasant Kunj.
“Yes, many people are on drugs and many are convicted of such offences. But accusing someone of cannibalism is absurd. I have never come across a cannibal in my country,” Aliyu Rabiu Karmanje, another student in the Noida International University, said.
Alexandra believed that accusations as absurd as cannibalism are meant only to justify racist acts. “I have never heard of cannibalism in Africa. I think an excuse was needed to attack Africans and it was hence manufactured,” she said. Alexandra also believed that the government of India did not do enough to protect the Africans from racist attacks.
“When three of my friends were attacked in a Delhi Metro station, the police present there watched and did nothing,” she said. When asked if she would like to stay in India, she said, “No. I am fed up. I will not say that all the Indians are bad but some of them are.”
Aliyu Rabiu Karmanje said that he likes India as a country but he adds, “I do not like the behaviour of some people.”
Omar Abbaa only hoped that the government takes steps to prevent their lives from being endangered, so that they can safely go out to resume classes in universities.
Updated Date: Apr 01, 2017 10:20:09 IST