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Imagine walking down a street while children pelt you with stones. Also imagine, being a 12-year-old who no one is willing to play with or someone who is regularly bullied at school. Think of what it is like to walk down a street where small boys spit on you, often egged on by their parents.
Racial prejudice against people of African descent has grown manifold over the last five years, with hundreds of people of African descent staying at Malyiya Nagar’s Khirki Extension, Hauz Rani and Khirki Village going through a nightmarish experience daily, for the last several years.
When HT visited Khirki Extension, a number of such residents came out with their horror tales of being stoned, beaten and even molested outside their houses.
“My experience of living in this neighbourhood is not very fond. There is just too much prejudice. I have had people throwing stones at me for no reason whatsoever. Small kids have spat on me for no reasons. I don’t claim that none of the Africans who live here are drug addicts, but if they are doing something wrong, arrest them in a proper manner. Don’t accuse all of us of being drug addicts and peddlers. I don’t get jobs because of my skin colour. There is a lot of segregation and discrimination,” said Jason, who is from Nigeria and has been living in the area for the last three years.
The experiences women have to go through is much worse.
“It is common for men in the area to sexually harass us on the streets and pass lewd comments. Incidents of stoning are very common. In the past, men have tried to enter our rooms late in the night,” said a Nigerian woman, who did not want to be named.
Other women recount the horror they experienced on Thursday.
“I was in my room when I saw a hoard of men entering the gate and rushing towards our room. I locked my door but they forced us to open it. The men came in and started to ask for our passports. They then opened our cupboards to ‘search’ for drugs. By this time, the cops reached the spot and shooed them away,” said Irene, who exports goods from India to various African countries.
The men and women, in fact, say that the police have been instrumental in ensuring that the local residents don’t harass them.
“They have always helped us whenever we have complained,” Irene added.
Aastha Chauhan, an artist who has been working with people of various nationalities in Khirki Extension for the past 10 years, said that she had written to the police commissioner before the elections saying that racial prejudice is rampant in the area and the police needed to take serious action.