Racist attack on Nigerians in Greater Noida is hardly surprising
The attack on Nigerians in the wake of the tragic death of a teenager in Greater Noida shows how racist Indians can beanalysis Updated: Mar 28, 2017 15:51 IST
Are Indians racist? The simple answer to that, it sadly seems, is ‘Yes. Of course we are!’ What else can explain this violent animosity towards “Africans” as though all people of a certain skin colour belong to one large continent that doesn’t even deserve to be thought of as different countries.
Take the latest incident in Greater Noida as an example. In a tragic incident, a teenage boy studying in class 12, who had been missing since Friday night, was found on Saturday morning in a highly intoxicated state, and later died of a suspected drug overdose.
A reasonable response to the situation would have been to try and find out how a teenage boy was getting his hands on intoxicants and drugs; and to do something to prevent others like him from falling prey to such dangerous addictions.
Instead, neighbours decided that it must have been the “Africans” who lived nearby that must be responsible, even setting off a malicious rumour that they may have killed and eaten up the boy. They even filed a police complaint against the Nigerian students, who were arrested for murder, and eventually let off due to lack of evidence.
At a protest march over the teenager’s death, in which the crowd shouted slogans against Africans and demanded that those behind the death of the boy be arrested, the crowd became inflamed at the sight of some black people doing their evening shopping at a nearby market. The mob descended upon them, beating them up, and caused one Nigerian woman to be found in a hospital later that night.
As a people obsessed with a Fair-And-Lovely complexion, Indians cut a sorry picture when it comes to people who don’t “look like us”, whatever that may mean in a country as diverse as India. Just ask anyone from the North-East living anywhere else in India about it. But somehow, when it comes to black people, the discrimination is harsher, tinged with an unreasonable fear that appears to manifest as hysterical violence.
This is not the first time such a shameful incident has occurred. At least six Africans were attacked in south Delhi in May last year in separate incidents, after 23-year-old Masonda Ketada Olivier, a French teacher, was stoned to death over an altercation about hiring an auto rickshaw.
From being called ‘hapshi’, ‘negro’ and any number of racial slurs to being thought of as drug traffickers; and being accused of everything from prostitution to cannibalism; black people in India continue to be at the receiving end of many nasty forms of violence.
But is that even something to be surprised by? In a country where violence based on caste, religion, gender, sexual preferences (and any other difference one can think of) has become so commonplace, racism is entirely unsurprising. That famed Indian hospitality, advertised as athithi devo bhava (A guest is like God) in Incredible India campaigns, sounds like such a lie when it comes to people whose skin colour is not white.