The Big Story: Call it racism

The Indian government now objects to a statement of the obvious. After a spate of attacks on Africans living in Greater Noida, including a brutal assault in a mall captured on a chilling video, the chiefs of mission of 43 African countries said New Delhi had not taken “known, sufficient and visible” deterrent action. They also pointed out that the attack was “xenophobic and racial in nature” and called for an independent investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Council and other human rights bodies.

Delhi’s huffy response to such damning criticism boiled down to this: a “criminal act” that followed the suspicious death of a young Indian student could not be described as racist, and the government had done plenty to address it, why it had even discussed the episode in Parliament and put out a detailed statement on it.

There is something more worrying than diplomatic ineptness at work here. First, the attempt to drain the attacks of racial politics and recast them as stray criminal acts. It takes a deliberate myopia to do so. The lurid rumours of cannibalism that spread after the death of Manish Khari, the Indian student, were racialised to begin with. And in the immediate aftermath of the death, the police took two Nigerians into custody, not because they were believed guilty at that point, but to protect them from an angry mob. Then, the police booked five Nigerian men under charges of murder, following a complaint by Khari’s parents. The spate of attacks that followed involved large numbers of people in several separate incidents. The victims had no link to the murder case apart from the fact that they were African, just as the men accused of the crime were African.

Second, the police have arrested seven people and booked another 600 for rioting, but if previous cases are anything to go by, the prospects of prosecution are bleak. In 2014, a mob set upon three students from Gabon and Burkina Faso in Delhi’s Rajiv Chowk metro station, yet no one was arrested. In 2015, the case was closed. Also in 2014, sometime Delhi law minister and Aam Aadmi Party legislator Somnath Bharti had led a raid on Africans living in Khirki Extension. Though his party gave the go ahead to prosecute him and a chargesheet was filed, Bharti remains largely unscathed, while the roster of cases against him lengthens.

If such appalling incidents are to be prevented in future, the government needs to recognise the Greater Noida attacks for what they were, acts of racial violence not hooliganism, and ensure time bound prosecutions. Failing to do so would compound the offence.

The Big Scroll

Nishita Jha speaks to Nigerian students living in Greater Noida, drawn by the promise of better education, trapped in half-deserted apartment complexes on the peripheries of the city.

Abhishek Dey investigates the incidents of violence in Greater Noida.

Political pickings

  1. The Dalai Lama is set to arrive in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh today.
  2. The National Iinvestigation Agency has cleared senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Indresh Kumar, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and two others of all charges in the 2007 Ajmer blast case.
  3. The Election Commission, faced with charges that electronic voting machines were manipulated or tampered with, promises an “open challenge” to prove the infallibility of the machines.


  1. In the Indian Express, Upendra Baxi on how the Finance Bill violates constitutional proprieties.
  2. In the Hindu, Tabish Khair on the curse of the “strong leader”.
  3. In the Telegraph, Kanwal Sibal argues that India needs to keep up old ties with Russia.


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Priyanka Vora on how the death of a woman who went through a sex-selective abortion exposed an inter-state racket:

“Jadhav also told the police that his daughter was unhappy. ‘Tila khup darpan hota,’ said Jadhav. She was in acute stress. He said that after her first daughter was born, Praveen Jamdade and his family harassed her and things got worse after their second daughter was born. Praveen Jamdade had supposedly called Jadhav a few days before Swati Jamdade’s death to say that he was taking her to Mhaisal for an abortion.

‘When he told me that Swati is pregnant with a girl, I asked him not to do anything and accept whatever God gave,’ said Jadhav. However, Jadhav said, that Praveen Jamdade insisted that his wife should get an abortion: ‘Tyala pishvi khali karaichi hoti.’ He wanted to empty the uterus.

The police and district health authorities went to Bharti Hospital and found Khidrapure absconding. The police arrested and interrogated Sandeep Vanmore, a helper at the clinic, who told the police that illegal abortions took place in the hospital. An arts graduate, Vanmore had been working at the hospital for five years.”