Mob attack shows that racism is very much alive in India

Imagine a city where a person is discriminated against based on the color of their skin. A city in which foreigners are not welcomed. A place in which prejudice often turns to violence.

We are not talking about a city in Europe dealing with racism and xenophobia and we are sure as hell not talking about someplace in the United States. We are talking about Bangalore, a major South Indian city in Karnataka.

Early February, reports from major news sources around the world had reported on an attack targeting Tanzanian students in Bangalore. The students were targeted by the public following a hit-and-run case, where a Sudanese student had killed an Indian woman sleeping roadside. The incident merely happened because the group of students were African.

A female Tanzanian student and her three friends were targeted as they passed the accident site. The young woman was chased by a mob; the mob succeed at removing her top leaving her bare, beating her, and setting the students’ car ablaze.

"Police face criticism for allegedly failing to stop Wednesday's mob attack on an African student in Bangalore (Photo: Al Jazeera)."
“Police face criticism for allegedly failing to stop Wednesday’s mob attack on an African student in Bangalore (Photo: Al Jazeera).”

While this all took place police officers stood by and did nothing to control the mob and protect the group of students. The student later reported that she was told that they [the Tanzanian students and the Sudanese student from the hit-and-run] looked alike and that they “should get the black man who ran over a woman in the area.”

Bangalore’s police chief  NS Megharikh called it a simple case of “road rage,” claiming that there were no tensions between Indians and the sizable African diaspora in India. But this is not the first incident of its kind to make headlines.

In 2014 in New Delhi, three African men were accused of harassing an Indian woman in the metro station. A mob broke out and the young African men were left to fend for themselves. Videos of that incident have since gone viral, and as it can be seen that the police officers had done nothing to intervene.

That same year, Delhi’s former law minister led a vigilante mob as he accused a group of African women of being prostitutes.

Tanzania’s foreign minister has since spoken out noting that it was a racially motivated case as “she was attacked because of her skin colour.”

It is clear that more has to be done than suspending a few officers and arresting 4 individuals when there was a mob of participants. Not only does the Indian legal system have a lot of work to do to ensure a safe and accepting place for foreigners, particularly Africans, but also does Indian society. The media has a history of projecting a negative image of Blacks in India. Especially as India makes greater attempts to strengthen its ties with Africa as it hopes to increase trade and investment following October’s India-Africa Forum summit 2015.


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