An appeal to citizens of India regarding growing menace of attacks on our brothers and sisters from Africa
30 March 2017
We, concerned citizens of India, appeal to all fellow citizens, including teachers, students, the university and school administrations, sportspersons, political leaders, trade unionists and organisers in social movements to respond effectively to the growing menace of attacks on our brothers and sisters from Africa. We believe our society needs to be sensitized to the problems faced by foreign students in India, more especially students who come to this country from Africa. We have had a long shared journey with the countries and peoples of Africa. We see the phenomenon of such attacks as reflecting a growth in communal-sectarian and even caste and race-related prejudice among sections of our people. We must campaign against discrimination based on colour, caste and religion in our everyday life. We are too well aware of how the attitudes we have pointed to sometimes contribute also to discrimination against students from particular parts of India.
We regret that there is little visible everyday effort in our education system, or in our public spaces and even homes, to rectify this state of affairs even though our Constitution and laws beckon us towards the goal of equality and equal protection. We need effective public education in our schools, universities and homes, in our public bodies, workplaces and sports bodies, trade unions and our social movements so as actively to engage in challenging discriminatory practices. We would especially call upon universities and those associated with them to initiate outreach programmes for students from Africa and to take responsibility for their-well-being. Simultaneously, these institutions must initiate extension programmes in their areas of operation to re-orient mindsets, eliminate prejudice and sensitise our people towards our foreign, and especially African, compatriots. We call upon artists, including theatre and cinema artists, writers, teachers, and sportspersons from across India to explore ways of working together to eradicate the scourge of racism and communal-sectarianism and to re-orient the narrow attitudes that have come to the fore especially in recent times.
released by People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS)
Battini Rao, Convenor PADS
Press Statement to the African Media by Concerned Citizens of India Regarding Racial Attack on African Students
Statement Addressed to the African Media and Civil Society Information Networks
30 March 2017
We, representing concerned citizens of India, are extremely disturbed by the assault on 4 Nigerian students in Greater Noida in the state of Uttar Pradesh, adjoining Delhi. We condemn in the strongest possible terms these attacks carried out by a mob which chose to take law into its own hands on mere suspicion which has also since turned out, as confirmed by the local police, to have been without foundation. That these assaults were made on foreigners who have come to India in friendship and goodwill makes these even more reprehensible.
We are relieved that the four African students who were injured in these attacks are now reportedly safe and out of danger.
The incident nevertheless requires deep introspection on the part of the authorities and our polity and society as a whole. We find that a number of troubling tendencies that have recently come to the fore in our country appear to have converged in the Greater Noida incidents. First, discriminatory, restrictive and narrow-minded attitudes towards many of those who are seen by some of us as being different from ourselves whether in terms of colour, origin, opinions, mannerisms, lifestyle or in the degree of power, resources and influence they may or may not command, have strengthened over the years.
Second, not only some foreigners but also some of our own people have in recent times been targeted as a consequence of the growth of a mob mentality among sections of our people in recent years.
Third, there is an increasing tendency on the part of a section of our people to arrive at conclusions on the basis of unverified assumptions and, under cover of these, to take law into their own hands.
It is urgently necessary to call a halt to such brutality and to bring the miscreants responsible for such criminal conduct to book.
As concerned citizens we express our profound regret and deep sympathies to the families of victims of such fiendish behaviour which is shameful enough even without its racial overtone and compounded several times because of that reprehensible aspect. We would like to stress that mobs consisting of our fellow citizens which act in the way they did in Greater Noida are a disgrace to our society and do not represent our country or people. Our governments have made umpteen assurances in similar cases in the past but we earnestly expect that they will ensure exemplary punishment to the perpetrators. We expect our government also to meet all costs of treatment of victims and to provide protection to students and visitors from abroad and, more especially, those who come to our land from African countries. We are cognizant of the close interaction of the peoples of Africa and India in their struggle against colonial rule. We recall also the many historical connections that Indian and African peoples have had over the centuries both over land and sea. Our country has been host to many persons of African origin over the centuries who have become a living part of us. Likewise, we are cognizant of the many Indians who have found their home in Africa and have become a part of that great continent’s life and struggles. We are truly ashamed of what has happened and will strive to change the mindset that appears to lead to such acts.
Released via People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS)
Battini Rao, Convenor PADS