ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Racism against Africans in India

Liminal Spaces

Sporadic but virulent racial attacks on African nationals in public spaces contradict the ongoing metanarratives of ascendant India-Africa political and economic relations. This article affirms that the Indian people at large and the Government of India have remained steadfast in their condemnation of such xenophobic attacks. Increased people-to-people interactions through the arts, education, state media, and shared cultural festivals will promote greater intercultural understanding and buttress the long-standing Afrasian connections.

For a country steeped in syncretism and traditions of welcoming foreigners, the hostile attacks against Africans in India in the last three to four years signals a worrying trend. Though sporadic, these events have been unsettling for the Indian and African peoples and the ascendant India–Africa relations. Khirki Extension, a suburb of Delhi was raided at the behest of a local politician, Somnath Bharti, in 2014. The raid targeted Ugandan women residents. They deposed that they were manhandled and accused of running a drug and prostitution racket, and were forced to undergo medical tests. Bharti’s act was clearly outside the remit of his jurisdiction and he was severely criticised (Indian Express 2014).

This was not a one-off incident. Delhi has seen similar occurrences of hostility against African immigrants. In the same year, violence broke out in Goa after African nationals protested against the death of a Nigerian national, Obodo Uzoma Simeon, who was killed, allegedly in a drug war with the locals. The Goa police dealt with the issue effectively, as a local law and order problem and the culprits were arrested (Firstpost 2013). Such incidences of racial stereotyping of “blacks” as drug dealers and prostitutes is rife in India and emphasises the lack of intercultural understanding between the two communities.

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