Masonda Ketanda Olivier, who was beaten to death by a group of men Friday night, would have turned 24 Saturday. “He was attacked and killed the night before his birthday,” said his friend Sam.
Sam, who was with Olivier Friday night, said he was a witness to the brutal attack on his friend.
He and Olivier had gone to a friend’s residence in Kishangarh to borrow some money for the birthday celebrations, said Sam.
“He summoned an auto while I went to buy a cigarette. When I came back, I saw the men assaulting him … when he tried to run, they gave chase and beat him up. They wanted to catch the same auto and hurled racial slurs at Olivier,” said Sam, who hails from Ivory Coast. He said when he tried to intervene, the men “punched” him.
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Still in shock over the incident, Sam said his friend was “a shy and helpful person who never went looking for any trouble.”
“He definitely did not deserve to go this way. I used to be his roommate. All of us here in India are close to each other because we speak the same language and identify with one another,” he said.
Jay, an acquaintance of Olivier, said, “A lot of people in this city look at me and my group of friends and assume that we are here illegally. That assumption is the reason why we are victims of a lot of implied hatred and anger. The embassy can prove that Olivier, I and many of us are here legally, with valid visas. Stereotyping and profiling often lands us in trouble, but this time it is clear who committed the crime.”
Olivier’s friends said all of them have faced such judgmental assumptions and discrimination in the city earlier, but they never imagined such prejudice could end up in a murder. “Many of my brothers (friends) are extremely troubled by the news of Olivier’s death. None of us can even imagine him being in a fight, I did not know him very well, but he was an introvert who kept away from disputes,” said Jay.
Both Jay and Sam said they have lived in Delhi for years and the city had virtually become their second home. “We really hope that action is taken against the perpetrators. He was young and had come here looking for a better education and life than what he would have gotten back home… there is no point in saying anything more than this,” they said.