A day after four African students were assaulted in Greater Noida, Gautam Buddh Nagar District Magistrate, Nagendra Singh, speaking to the media on Tuesday, claimed that the incident should not be treated as a hate crime. “Absolutely not a hate crime, neither it’s some kind of anger against a race,” new agency ANI quoted him as saying. Speaking on the violence that spread from Greater Noida’s NSG Black Cats Enclave to Ansal Mall in the area, Singh pinned the blame on a section of people for spreading rumours over the death of a youth. “Few people spread rumours regarding the death of a youth which gave rise to anger; incident happened in continuity of that,” Singh said.
Five people were arrested in connection with last night’s assault. The violence began when residents of the area took out a candle-light march on Monday night for a 17-year-old youth who died of suspected drug overdose. The youth’s parents alleged that the students, who were their neighbours, provided their son with drugs. They also claimed that he was kidnapped and beaten by the five students. An FIR was lodged and the five Nigerians were arrested, but were let off due to lack of evidence. They were booked under IPC sections 302 (punishment for murder) and 328 (causing hurt by means of poison, etc., with intent to commit an offence). Later, a march was taken out by the residents demanding justice. The protesters turned violent and began beating Africans passing on the road. Greater Noida SP, Sujata Singh said: “They also went to Ansal Mall and caused havoc and beat up Africans there. Police then rescued them and moved them to a safe place.” The violence spread to Ansal Plaza in Pari Chowk where four Africans were brutally assaulted and one of their cars windshield was also broken.
ADG Daljit Chaudhary told reporters that the police used mild force to stop the protesters from attacking the Africans and arrested five of them from the spot. “Police had to use force to dissuade people from attacking and arrested 5 people from the spot. Many of them who were there trying to play mischief have been identified as the entire event had been videographed. An FIR has been registered and action will be taken accordingly,” he said.
On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj raised the issue with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who assured swift probe in the incident. The Association of African Students President, however, claimed the incident was a “hate crime” and demanded adequate security for the student community. “In Greater Noida, they (locals) say that Africans ‘we don’t want you to be here anymore’. These are actually hate crimes towards African community. Africans are not secure in this country,” Association of African Students President Samuel Jack said. He added that Africans may eventually avoid coming to the country for pursuing higher studies due to safety concerns.
One of the injured Nigerians alleged that the attackers did not want Africans living in this country. “I don’t go to club in this country. I don’t drink. They assaulted me for no reason. I don’t know what to say. They do not want us to be in this country,” he claimed.