mid-day editorial: Strike out at drugs, not at a person's race
It happened in Greater Noida, but it still strikes a chord here in Mumbai, and elsewhere in India. Four Nigerian students became the victims of a mob attack after a peaceful protest march turned violent.
Local residents were taking out a candlelight march for a boy who had recently died because of a suspected drug overdose. The boy's parents said their son had been kidnapped and foreigners had given him drugs, as a result of which, he died. The march was taken out after the police released some Nigerians who had been detained in connection with the students' death. But it suddenly turned violent, with protestors beating up Africans on the road and in the mall. Knives, bricks and rods were used.
It is shocking that a death has sparked this kind of violence and racism. It is has taken deep root in our society and has stereotyped Nigerians and all Africans as drug peddlers and junkies. It is reprehensible that Africans became such a target of sweeping hate and venom.
Readers may remember some years ago, Goa was on the boil after a Nigerian national was stabbed to death in what was said to be a turf war over the drug trade in North Goa. After the killing, nearly 200 Nigerians blocked the National Highway-17 for four hours to protest against the murder. The subsequent tension has had a ripple effect with the police cracking down on Nigerians staying illegally in various parts of the city. Nigerians here routinely battle racist barbs and drug-dealer stereotypes, lumped together as blacks or 'kaalus'.
The focus should be on stamping out the drug menace, rather than the nationality or colour of persons. Let us concentrate on the crime rather than tarnish an entire community with the same brush. Just like Indians slam racism targeted at them abroad, it is time to look inwards and stop if we are guilty of the same here.