The spate of racial attacks on African tiols in Delhi has thrown a spanner into India’s diplomatic efforts for closer ties with African tions, which is particularly galling after the success of the India-Africa Summit in October last year. It is surprising that while Exterl Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has been taking pains to reassure African envoys that the Government of India will take all steps to ensure safety of their countrymen, her junior VK Singh has pooh-poohed the attacks as ‘minor scuffle blown up by the media’. After the killing of a Congolese tiol in South Delhi’s posh Vasant Kunj area last week, at least six African tiols were attacked in Mehrauli in separate disputes over playing loud music and alleged public drinking. In some other parts of the country too, African tiols have been targeted, like the brutal assault on a Nigerian student in Hyderabad recently. Meanwhile, retaliatory attacks have been reported against Indian shops and establishments in the Congolese capital Kinshasa. The boycott of Africa Day celebrations in India on May 25 by 54 countries of the African Union to protest ‘rising racism and Afro-phobia’, has already put Indian diplomacy on the backfoot. African students are also planning to hold a demonstration at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday next. The Exterl Affairs Minister has spoken about launching a sensitization drive by holding meetings with resident associations in areas where African tiols reside, Union Home minister Rajth Singh has ordered Delhi police to increase patrolling in such areas and take strict action against attackers. While the Modi government at the Centre is taking flak for perceived rising prejudices, Delhi’s AAP government too did not cover itself with glory two years earlier when its MLA Somth Bharti led vigilantes to thrash some Nigerian women on wild charges of links to drugs and sex rackets. Earlier, the UPA government faced major discomfiture when people from the Northeast were subjected to a string of racial attacks in Delhi and elsewhere. As far as religious, racial, linguistic and color prejudices go, the country’s capital itself continues to remain woefully backward, putting the government repeatedly on the wrong foot.
Racism in Delhi