African Students Face Indian Wrath In Crazy Mob Attack

Racism or vigilante justice? While it is not clear what incited the attack, three African students were hounded by an angry mob in a New Delhi metro station this week.

The incident was caught on video, which shows the terrified men unsuccessfully seeking refuge inside and on top of a glass booth used by the station police – who were nowhere to be seen while the gathered crowd beat up the youth with sticks and fists.

The episode prompted furious backlash from the African community in India, setting off a scorching round of criticism surrounding racism in India.

A spokesman for New Delhi’s railway police and at least one eyewitness said the attacks were triggered by rumors that the three men had misbehaved with female passengers by making lewd comments but there had not been any complaints of sexual harassment.

The incident brought back bitter memories from last year when a Nigerian national, Wandoh Timothy, was killed in the western Indian state of Goa – a murder that triggered an ugly spat between Indian politicians and the Nigerian envoy in the country.

Although there is no official data on how many Africans reside in India, the Nigerian Embassy in the country’s capital stated last year that there are around 50,000 Nigerians living in India.

Thousands of students from other African nations including Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Sudan also make way to the South Asian country each year for higher studies.

“Sometimes we're told a house is not available, only to see it being given to students from other parts of India,” a foreign student told Al Jazeera in an interview while revealing personal experiences of racism in India.

A 2013 BBC report also stated that African expats staying in and around the commercial capital, Mumbai (Bombay), complain of indiscriminate racism and constant police harassment.

“The police treat us Africans like dogs,” Nigerian Sambo Davis told BBC correspondent Zubair Ahmed.