NEW DELHI: Once a favourite haunt of Africans of various nationalities, Khirki Extension and adjoining Hauz Rani have seen a sea change in inter-community interaction since 2014.
The recent attacks on Africans in the city prompted many to wonder if the hatred has roots in the ‘raid’ against a few Ugandan women in Khirki Extension two years ago.
What started as a raid against prostitution, Africans in the area allege, turned into a hate campaign which led to violence against them.
The raid was carried out under the supervision of Malviya Nagar MLA Somnath Bharati, who has since been blamed by many for the attacks.
Bharati refutes the charges. “I sometimes think I am the most misunderstood man. Two Ugandan women came to me for help as they were promised jobs but forced into prostitution. First, there was no raid and second, the intervention was only against the prostitution and drug racket. It was not against Africans,” says the AAP MLA.
The lack of ‘violent’ incidents does not mean that Africans and Indians in Khirki Extension are on the best of terms.
“I have stayed in India for 15 years and nine of those have been in Delhi. In this city, I have been made to feel different, made to feel like a foreigner and not in a good way. I have had some good experiences too but things like finding a house is very difficult,” said Fatima Hassan, a refugee from Somalia, in Hauz Rani.
Others still tell stories of stones being thrown at them, uncharitable remarks and a dislike towards them.
“A lot of Africans I knew moved away after 2014... The people have become less friendly over the past two years..,” said a 26-year-old student from Nigeria who did not want to be named.