Indians think Nigerian students are cannibals — Union leader
The A of Welfare , Association of African Students in India , Mr . Bukola Oluwafemi , tells TOBI AWORINDE that Nigerians in India are victims of racial profiling
What was the reason for the recent attacks on Nigerians in India ?
It started on the evening of Friday ( March 24 ) when a 19 – year- old Indian boy in the neighbourhood of some accused people got missing . Some of the Indians here believe that Africans eat human beings, so the mother bought into that wrong mentality , thinking that the missing boy must have been kidnapped and eaten up by Africans living in the neighbourhood, NSG Black Cat Enclave in Greater Noida , Uttah Pradesh .
Did they go to the police then or was that when the attacks on Nigerians started ?
They didn ’ t go to the police station . The woman called some locals . There are five Nigerians living in that apartment. It is just one house in between the houses of the (Indian ) victims and the (Nigerian ) students . When she raised the alarm , the indigenes gathered themselves and forced themselves into the house of the students . Fortunately , there were only two students at the time . The Indians tried to force the door open and the Nigerians , seeing a crowd of indigenes , wondered what was happening . The boys eventually opened the door and everybody trooped in and started searching , opening their fridge to check if there would be human flesh there . They searched everywhere and saw that there was no such thing . They all gathered outside the house . Eventually , the victims called the Nigerian students ’ association . One of them who was at home when the incident happened , called his brother who was not around to inform him . The brother told him to call the police for security because (the mob ) could kill the two of them. The brother returned home as soon as the police arrived at the scene. The police also searched everywhere in the house . They didn ’ t find anything . The Nigerians then told the police , ‘ For the sake of safety , this is a tough place in India and the locals are aggressive . ’ So , they took everybody to the police station . Everything started in the evening and it was getting to 2 am . So , the five students slept at the police station . However , the mother of the ( Indian) missing child later called the police to inform them that her child had returned home. So , the police used their discretion to release our ( Nigerian ) boys . They even escorted them back to their apartment . After another two hours, the mother called again to say the child came back semi – conscious and she alleged that the five Nigerian students kidnapped him .
Did the Indian boy say he was kidnapped by the boys?
The mother said so , nobody confirmed it. They were just levelling baseless allegations . She also added that , as her son was giving her the information , he vomited and died as they were trying to get him to the hospital . They then accused the five boys of poisoning and killing the child . So , they went to the police station and filed a First Information Report. At the end of the day , the five people were picked by police again and monitored with guns like criminals who committed the offence . There are two criminal codes here , 302 and 328 , which they levelled against these students . That was Saturday afternoon . By Saturday evening, they took them to another police station , which we did not know . In the evening, the Vice President of the Association of African Students in India and I requested to see them and the FIR filed against them. So , they used the police van to bring the five students with full security . They showed us the FIR filed and told us , ‘ These people have to go to jail. ’ And we said , ‘ What is the evidence that this (Indian ) guy had any contact with the students ?’ I also stylishly went to the boys in the police van and asked, ‘ Is this true? We are all Nigerians , confess to me and I will see what I can do . ’ The three of them said they had not even seen the boy before . Here , sometimes , you don ’ t even know the next person . Everybody minds his business . I tried to do a little bit of background checks. They are Hausa boys . So , I asked my Hausa friends one or two questions to know if they had been taking drugs or involved in any kind of mischievous activities. They confirmed that these were good boys and just by looking at them, they looked responsible.
Have you spoken to the parents /guardians of any of the attacked students’?
I have talked to them directly and yesterday , I was with some of the victims . We’ re trying as much as possible to ensure that they are not paying most of the (hospitals) bills .
Are the parents threatening to withdraw their children ?
Yes , the parents of one of the students who had just spent six months in India had already called him to return home . That was the boy you saw being attacked in the mall. They are even supposed to have booked the ticket . His elder brother is in final year , remaining two months to leave . Both of them want to go back home , but we are trying to advise that even if the younger one would go , the older one should be allowed to stay for the remaining two months to complete his course .
What next for the victims?
They will be given proper medical attention . The only thing now is that we are trying to ensure the community is safe for students to be able to move around .
Source: The Punch