A cab driver was allegedly assaulted overnight by a group of African nationals in Delhi, police said on Monday, potentially escalating a row over a string of racist attacks that left a Congolese teacher dead in the national capital.
The 51-year-old cab driver, identified only by his first name Nuruddin, was allegedly thrashed by six people including two women following an altercation in the wee hours of Monday near Mehrauli, police said.
Police said the victim with multiple cuts and bruises on his face was taken to AIIMS where he received six stitches.
“Since six people, four men and two women of African origin, wanted to board the car, the cab driver objected, citing restrictions on carrying more than four passengers. The group then allegedly thrashed him,” a senior Delhi Police officer told Hindustan Times.
Nuruddin also alleged that the Africans robbed some money before fleeing from the spot.
One of the attackers, a woman from Rwanda, was left behind though the others managed to escape after the incident.
“We have registered a case and are interrogating the Rwandan woman to identify the others who were with her at the time of crime,” said Ishwar Singh, deputy commissioner of police, south. Police said they were scanning CCTV footage from the area to ascertain the sequence of events.
Spate of racist attacks
The incident comes in the backdrop of a series of attacks in Delhi on people from African countries, leading to a diplomatic row and a possible backlash in Congo.
Last week, residents in Congo’s capital Kinshasa fired shots and attacked shops owned by Indians. Two Indians were injured in the violence which came after a Congolese was bludgeoned to death allegedly by three men after an argument over hiring an auto-rickshaw.
On Sunday, police said they arrested five people accused of assaulting Africans, after African diplomats urged the Indian government to ensure the safety of their nationals living in the country.
In a rare statement issued after the attack, a group of African ambassadors said African nationals were living in a “pervading climate of fear and insecurity” in Delhi.
The diplomats also warned that they may recommend to their governments not to send students to India until safety conditions improve, following a string of what they said were unpunished racial attacks. Police have arrested two of the three suspected of the killing.
While external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj promised swift action against those involved in the incidents as well as a “sensitisation campaign”, Union minister VK Singh accused the media of overreacting to “minor” incidents .
Thousands of people from African countries study and work in India but several incidents have raised concerns of racist violence and discrimination.
In 2013, a Nigerian national was killed by a mob in the tourist state of Goa, with a state minister later calling Nigerians a “cancer”.
Delhi’s former law minister Somnath Bharti was accused in 2014 of harassing African women after he led a vigilante mob through an area of the capital, accusing them of being prostitutes.
(With agency inputs)