Far from home, African students worry for safety

For many of them, it has been a difficult task to allay the fears of their parents back home who are asking them to return.

Published: 01st June 2016 04:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st June 2016 04:05 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: BACK home, they had watched a lot about India on TV -- Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood songs and dances were all familiar. They saw India as a land of diverse culture and loved everything about it. But today, many from African countries  fear for their safety in India. 

Repeated incidents of violence against African nationals across India has left the student community in the city worried. For many of them, it has been a difficult task to allay the fears of their parents back home who have been making frantic calls, asking them to return home. 

At least nine people from Moses Kalim’s family in Uganda have studied in India. His grandfather insisted that he continue his studies in India for better career opportunities. Two years on, Kalim is disappointed and concerned by the incidents around him.

“I have often travelled alone to Delhi and Mumbai. Today, I would think twice. I do not have anyone to fall back on in if I face any problem. I’m worried if the police here will help me in case of a problem,” said Kalim, a digital media student in the city. While he wants to stay back in India to pursue higher studies, he is not sure if he will, under the present circumstances. 

Judged by colour

Angeline Abdul Majid’s classmates from Iraq and Jordan speak the same language as her - Arabic. Yet, she sees a clear difference in the way she is treated compared to them because of her skin colour. There are too many stereotypes attached with African students --- that they drink, they party every night, and they deal drugs. 

Angeline, who is from South Sudan, is a fourth-year student of LLB. Over the past few days, her mother has called her frequently to check on her following news of attacks on African nationals.

“As a mother, she is bound to be worried. I convince her that I am safe as I stay in the hostel.”

‘Flights land on trees’

Violence against African nationals takes place because many in India are unaware of African culture or countries. “My classmate asked me how planes could land on trees,” said Kalim, talking about misconceptions among his classmates and friends about African countries. 

David Edward, secretary, Association of African Students in India, Bengaluru, added that this problem needs to be addressed. “We need to get to know each other’s culture through interactions. That is the only way to stop such incidents. We have to build a platform for such interactions.” Most students conveyed that Indians should fight against violent attacks.

No chargesheet filed

On February 3, a 21-year-old Tanzanian girl was stripped and attacked by a mob in the city. But no chargesheet has been filed in the case. 

Following the incident, the High Commission of Tanzania sent a Note Verbale requesting the Indian government to ensure legal action against the guilty and to ensure the safety of African students in India.

The case was handed over to the Central Crime Branch (CCB). Nine people were arrested and two police personnel were suspended in this connection.

Months later, no progress has been made. Even as the chargesheet is pending, the girl will complete her course in June and is likely to return to her country.


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