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‘We won’t be bullied by violence’: Nigerian students on Greater Noida attacks

The students – who hail from various nations in Africa – allege political pressure behind the attacks amid rising tensions between local residents and the foreigners

noida Updated: Mar 30, 2017 23:04 IST
Vaibhav Jha
Vaibhav Jha
Greater Noida, Hindustan Times
Nigerians attacked,Greater Noida,Africans in India
A policeman helps an African national, apparently injured in a racial attack in Greater Noida on Monday.(HT Photo)

African students living in Greater Noida say they face daily prejudice and are living in fear after two days of violence targeted at them following the mysterious death of a local youth.

The students – who hail from various nations in Africa – allege political pressure behind the attacks amid rising tensions between local residents and the foreigners.

“We come to India to live in peace but we will not be bullied by force or violence. The need of the hour is for African students to unite against this blatant racism,” said Lawrence, a Nigerian national.

The violence broke out on Sunday after a Class 12 student Manish Khari died because of a suspected drug overdose. Locals alleged that Africans living in the area had plied the youth with drugs and attacked two Nigerians on Sunday night. Police also arrested five Africans but released them later because of a lack of proof.

The crowd was peaceful until it reached Pari Chowk, but went out of control at the sight of Africans in the market. A car was also damaged by the angry mob. (HT Photo)

A day later, a protest march by residents turned violent as people assaulted several Africans at Greater Noida’s busy Pari Chowk. Rumours startled swirling that residents had abducted a Nigerian woman – a speculation denied by police. The waves of violence have left the foreigners rattled.

“We have been living in a sense of fear as there is no protection for us even after the attack,” said Bukola, a commerce student at IEC college.

African nationals talk to a policeman after a suspected racial attack on them, in Greater Noida on Monday. (HT Photo)

Lawrence said the attacks were well-planned.

“We had assembled at Kasna Police station on Monday morning demanding the release of two students who had been arrested without proper investigation. As soon as the duo got bail and we left the spot, several African nationals were attacked by the local people,” said Lawrence.

The Association of African Students in India (AASI) have also condemned the attack on African nationals and have also asked the central government to ensure that the community got protection in the national capital region. The government has also sought a report and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has assured foreign minister Sushma Swaraj of a “fair and impartial investigation”.

More than 4,000 Africans stay in Greater Noida and study in a clutch of private universities and colleges that have come up in the area over the past decade. But many of them say that they feel uncomfortable at the hostile attitude of locals, who see the Africans as the source of crime and drugs.

“For now, we have decided to drop our protest against racist attacks by locals. Further course of action will be decided soon,” said Bukola.

First Published: Mar 28, 2017 11:06 IST