Delhi's everyday racism: African students recount lynch mob attack in metro

New Delhi: “We do not live in India, we survive here. People in this national capital treat us as if we are not human beings,” says 20-year-old Guira, a NIIT student of computer science from West African country Burkina Faso, who along with his two friends, Mapaga (22) and Yohan (22), from Gabon was attacked by a lynch mob at Rajiv Chowk metro station on Sunday evening.

“Everyday, we have to tackle racism. People in metro and other public places take our photographs without our consent and laugh at us. If we object, they call us kalu (black) and hurl abuses,” he told Firstpost on Wednesday describing the racist and ugly face of Delhi.

Narrating the horrific incident that took place on Sunday, Gabon national Mapaga (22), one the victims who is pursuing BBA from Sharda University, said, “We were returning to Greater Noida where we live from our friend’s place in Vasant Vihar. We boarded a metro train at Chhatarpur station for Rajiv Chowk. I noticed one of the three persons standing in front of us clicking our pictures and making fun of us. I saw it in the window pane behind them. When I objected, they refused to accept that they had photographed us.”

“As the train stopped at Rajiv Chowk, they pushed Yohan outside. He fell on the floor where a police official was standing. They brutally attacked us at the platform,” he said.

The cop took all six to a Delhi Police kiosk upstairs where a lone constable was stationed. The three boys went inside the police booth, but the attackers were standing outside the enclosure. Soon, a large number of people gathered there.

“They were daring us to come outside. As the policemen who had rescued and brought us to the enclosure left the spot, the cop who was deployed in the kiosk also stepped out after some time and told the mob gathered outside something in Hindi, which we could not understand. We bolted the booth from inside to save our lives, but the frenzied mob smashed the glass facade and entered the police booth. They started hitting us with sticks and rods. Some of them were throwing furniture on us,” said 22-year-old Yohan, a student of BCA at Amity University.

Mapaga, who has suffered a fractured hand, said, “When we left with no option to escape, we tried to climb the rooftop of the enclosure. Someone bit me on my leg and I fell down to the floor. I was being slapped despite bleeding from my hand and head. I prayed them with folded hands to spare us as we are students, but nobody was ready to listen.”

 Delhis everyday racism: African students recount lynch mob attack in metro

A screenshot of the video that has gone viral.

Ironically, the whole drama was allegedly taking place before the cop who had stepped out of the kiosk. “We prayed to him as well to save us but he pushed us inside the enclosure,” he alleged.

The young students were finally rescued by four-five policemen who came to the spot and cordoned the area to keep the mob away. They were taken to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital from where they were released after sometime. They have suffered severe injuries in head, hands and wrists which had to be stitched.

When asked if they had passed objectionable comment, as alleged, against a woman in the metro train, he said, “There was no female commuter standing with them. The allegation is baseless.”

They are so frightened that they have decided not to board the metro for few months. “After the assault, it has become difficult for us to board the metro. We will avoid it at least for the next three months,” Guira.

Asked if their parents have got the information, he said, “They are extremely disturbed and concerned about our security.”

The ambassadors of Gabon and Burkina Faso have written to the Ministry of External Affairs expressing “deep concern” over the incident. “We (Koumba and his Burkina Faso counterpart Idriss Raoua Ouedraogo) have filed a complaint with the Ministry of External Affairs, expressing concerns over the incident. We expect from the Government of India that a fair and impartial probe will be conducted to ensure justice,” Gabon Ambassador to India Desire Koumba told Firstpost.

Rubbishing the allegation of misbehave with a female on board, he said, “How can a person dare to pass indecent comments specially when he knows that he will not be spared as he is less in number. The police should do a fair probe and if the allegation is proved, law will prevail.”

Notably, the police have only registered a case of rioting, causing hurt and damage to public property against unidentified people.

Describing the incident “inhuman” and “unavoidable”, he said, “The young students were brutalised in full public view but nobody from the crowd came to help them. Instead of helping the boys, they were busy in video recording the incident.”

A video that has gone viral on YouTube shows the passerby are either recording the three foreign nationals being brutalised on their cell phones or watching the incident unfold as a mute spectators.

Asked if the incident was racial in nature, the ambassador said, “I do not think so. For me, it is not racism. It is ignorance of fringe elements but yes, it leads to racism.”

On the other hand, the Delhi Police and CISF, which guards Metro stations, are busy passing buck for their inefficiency and lapses that led to the assault. While the Delhi Police says it is not responsible to maintain law and order inside Metro stations and it cannot deploy large number of constables there as it runs short of staff, the CISF says even one cop who was deployed in the kiosk did not discharge his duty.

“We took prompt action and immediately rushed a team to the spot to rescue the foreigners. We handed them over to the Delhi Police. It was responsibility of the policeman stationed in the booth to ensure their security, said a CISF official who did not wish to be identified.

CISF is supposed to look after the security inside metro stations.

DCP (Railways) Sanjay Bhatia said, “A probe is going on. We are analysing the CCTV footage to identify the rioters. Once we are done with it, then only we will be able to come to any conclusion.”

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Updated Date: Oct 02, 2014 08:21:54 IST