India should stop worrying about racism abroad and start tackling the menace within

Asmita Sarkar
India didn't condemn 'racist' attacks enough, say African envoys

A lot of reaction is being seen in India over the racist attacks on Indians in the US of late. True, we should consider the safety of our compatriots living in the US where white supremacists are turning more and more xenophobic, but at the same time, are we taking enough care of reining in our own racist instincts back home? The continuous attacks on African nationals in various parts of the country suggest we are not.

In 2016, when the relations between various African countries and India had suffered because of racial attacks on African students living in India, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had to step in to pacify hurt sentiments. She had promised stricter punishment for racial attacks on that occasion though they were about redresses and not actually uprooting the problem.

Swaraj and Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh had to assuage leaders of African nations in India and it had been decided that Singh would keep them informed about quarterly reports. However, the government has been unable to plug the loopholes in communication between the people. Africans continue to feel targeted because of their skin colour.

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On Monday, March 27, some African students were targeted in Greater Noida as local people believed that they were involved in causing the death of a Class 12 student, Manish Khari. The students claimed that the angry locals barged into their homes on March 24 and they were arrested without any evidence.

However, the police assured the African community that strict action is being taken against those who attacked the African nationals in Pari Chowk. 

"We don't know why we were assaulted, the mob hit us with rods, bricks and knives. We asked people around for help, but not one called the police. Even our college did not help," said one of the Nigerian nationals who were attacked on Monday. 

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To think that this is the only large-scale incident against African nationals to have taken place against them would be wrong as they have been targeted repeatedly over the years. 

In 2014, a mob at Rajiv Chowk metro station in New Delhi attacked three Africans while in January 2016, a Tanzanian woman was stripped and molested in Bengaluru. Her friends were also attacked by the local people. 

In May 2016, a 23-year-old Nigerian student was beaten with an iron rod at Banjara Hills in Hyderabad over an altercation about parking. In September 2015, a Congolese man was tied to a pole and beaten to death in Bengaluru's Kammanahalli area.

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There have been outrage on the social media in India with many people supporting the African students and asking Indians to stop being racist before making a hue and cry over racist crimes committed against them abroad.  

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