Past the plush resorts and banquet halls on Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road in Chhatarpur, a narrow bylane leads up to Rajpur Khurd, a village that lived in anonymity until Thursday night.
That night, seven African nationals were allegedly targeted in four consecutive attacks, leaving the community shocked. On Saturday, the uneasy calm, the downed shutters of shops and the locked houses along one of the streets bore testimony to the tension in the locality.
It was on this street that the African nationals were attacked, allegedly by locals. Even as the victims, along with their friends, recounted the horrors of that night, local residents stayed indoors. The locality appeared to be observing a rare holiday.
“Yes, I know what happened that night. The Africans were creating too much trouble … they were almost asking for it,” said a local shopkeeper.
According to local residents, African nationals started moving to this neighbourhood in the past two years after incidents of attacks on the community in areas like Munirka and Ber Sarai were reported. Though there is no exact figure on the total number of African residents in the village, locals say there are not less than 100 of “them”.
“As a result, local residents have lost their peace of mind. They dress provocatively and are out on the streets till late in the night, drinking and creating a ruckus. Even if they are not fighting, the way they speak makes it seem like they are having a fight. This is not our culture and it is very difficult for us to accept it,” said a resident.
He added, “We have repeatedly complained to police and the legislator but no action has been taken. Though I am unaware of the events of that night, I think the locals were just forced to take the law into their hands.”
Ola Jason, (28) a Nigerian who came to India three years ago and runs a salon here, said, “It is difficult for African nationals to get accommodation, and localities where they had been living have become increasingly unsafe. I moved to this village eight months ago after one of my friends said it was safe here. But see what has happened here,” said Jason, as his friends from across the city dropped in to plan a protest rally to demand security for the community.
Michel Kitanda, (27) a Congolese national, lost his first cousin Masonda Kitanda Olivier last week. Olivier was allegedly attacked and beaten to death by locals in the same neighbourhood.
“Even if the locals feel we create trouble, they should inform police. Have we ever teased local girls or bullied anybody? We can’t imagine doing so because we are foreigners and most of us are students. How can the locals take the law into their hands and randomly beat us up,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (south) Ishwar Singh said that the police control room had received several complaints about loud music allegedly being played by African nationals and scuffles involving them and local residents.
(With inputs from Alok Singh)