Some Indians Good, but Most Indians Bad: Nigerian Men After Attack
(The following article is being republished from The Quint’s archives in light of the latest attack on a Nigerian national in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar. A video showing the man being mercilessly thrashed for an alleged theft emerged on Monday. The article was originally published on 30 March 2017.)
A nervous angst punctuates the air in a tiny ward in Greater Noida’s Kailash Hospital.
One of the residents of the room sits back in his bed – his forehead covered in bandages – determined to ignore my presence as he watches the movie Columbiana on the small television screen. Meanwhile, his older brother paces back and forth taking phone calls, keeping a hawk’s eye on his sibling to make sure he doesn’t divulge anything.
Nigerian brothers Endurance and Precious Amalawa were brutally attacked by a mob at Ansal Plaza Mall on Monday. Video footage from the incident shows the younger of the two, Endurance, being thrashed with metal dustbins and wooden chairs.
A volley of journalists landed at the hospital the next day, to interview the two. But when they tuned into the news in the evening, they were not pleased with what they saw.
The brothers say they are upset that in the news coverage they have been associated with peddling drugs. Their disappointment with the media means my chances of getting through to them have been slashed by half.
Taking me to be a representative of Indians as well as of the media, Precious thinks it best to register his complaint with me:
“Some Indians are good, but most Indians are bad,” he adds, as he describes how he has to pay Rs 100 for every kg of gas, and how shopkeepers will charge him four times more to buy even a plain white T-shirt.
“You come to our country, no Indian is treated this way. You think we don’t know how to retaliate?” says a friend and fellow Nigerian present in the room, who is visibly upset.
When I ask if they will say all of this on camera, they tell me they’re tired and exhausted of the charade. “We’ve done all this, there’s no point,” they retort. “They’ll come after us again, to beat us or maybe this time even kill us.”
The attack on the two brothers comes amidst a series of assaults on Nigerians living in Greater Noida. Several separate incidents have occurred since Sunday after locals accused five Nigerian students of peddling drugs and murdering a 19-year-old Indian boy.
For Precious, who has been studying in India for the last two years, this is not his first tryst with racism. He claims two Indian men on a scooter once slapped him and drove off.
On being asked if he ever complained about the incident, the room full of Nigerians turn to me and scoff. “Complain to whom?” they demand.
From auto-wallahs refusing rides, to landlords and neighbours being overtly suspicious – the discrimination they experience is systemic and all pervasive.
Though they are in contact with the Nigerian embassy and despite reassurances from the Indian government, the anger they feel is palpable.
The brothers’ parents want them to come back home, and for Precious and Endurance, the reasons to stay on in India are dwindling as days go by.
As I exit the room feeling swamped by the energy it clutches, Precious tells me with little or no hint of hope:
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