Four Nigerian students sustained severe injuries after being attacked by a group of residents in Greater Noida’s Pari Chowk area on Monday. The incident took place around 6 pm, when a group of over 100 locals held a protest at the busy junction demanding that all Africans living in residential colonies in Greater Noida be asked to vacate their rented houses immediately.

This protest was organised after a Class 12 student in Greater Noida’s NSG Black Cats Enclave died of a suspected drug overdose on Saturday and five Nigerian students living in the neighbourhood were booked for murder. The students were later released for lack of evidence. When the victim, Manish Khari, went missing on Friday evening, a rumour spread that the teenager had last been seen with a group of Nigerians. A crowd raided the home of these African students and, when they failed to find Khari, accused the Nigerians of having eaten them up.

The police have registered a case for attempt to murder in Monfay’s violence and have arrested five people. “We have identified many accused persons through video footage recorded by officers present at the venue,” said SP (Greater Noida-Rural) Sujata Singh. “More arrests are likely.”

According to police, the residents had permission to organise a peaceful protest at Pari Chowk on Monday, but the situation suddenly went out of control despite police officials being present. The crowd turned violent when they spotted some Nigerians near the site of the protest and attacked them.

“The injured persons were rushed to hospital and their conditions are stable now,” Singh said.

The situation worsened on Monday evening when reports of a Nigerian woman being abducted from near her apartment in Greater Noida’s Swarna Nagar started getting circulated through WhatsApp. The police dismissed this.
“We have investigated into the matter and it has turned out to be a rumour,” Sujata Singh said. “We are trying to ascertain the source of the rumour and strong action will be taken against those found to have spread it.”

According to Samuel Abiye Jack, president of the Association of African Students in India, today’s incident was not an isolated case. Several attacks have taken place in localities close to Pari Chowk since Sunday night, and so far 10 African students, including those injured on Monday, have been targeted, he claimed.

“The students attacked today and in the other incidents reported in the past 24 hours were merely passing by when they were spotted by the locals,” he said. “All cases are of unprovoked attack.”

However, Sujata Singh of the Noida police denied reports of other complaints. “If multiple incidents have happened, I urge the concerned victims to come and lodge complaints,” he said.