A video showing a mob of men beating up a Nigerian man in Delhi, India, has gone viral in the country. The attack actually took place in late September but the footage only began to circulate this week. Some people think the attack is just another in a series of racist assaults on African people.
In the footage, the man, who has been identified as “Ahmed” by Indian media, is tied to a pole by his ankles. One man holds up his feet so that another can strike his bare soles repeatedly with canes. Eventually, the Nigerian man rolls over onto his knees, and tries to crawl away from the men armed with sticks, but they keep hitting him. In the video there appear to be at least four different men who take turns to assault the man. A crowd has gathered to watch the attack.
Police say that the attack actually took place on 24 September, but footage of the incident only came to light on Monday. It took place in Malviya Nagar, a locality in South Delhi. The Nigerian man who was attacked was allegedly caught burgling a house. Krishna Kumar, the owner of the house, tied him up before thrashing him. Police have since arrested five of the attackers, and have kept the Nigerian man in custody as well on suspicion of theft.
Police deny that the attack was racially motivated. NDTV reported that Ishwar Singh, the district police chief, said, “There is no indication of a racial attack. The Nigerian Embassy was informed about the arrest of Nigerian national Ahmed before he was sent into judicial custody by a court here till Tuesday”. Dependra Pathak, the spokesperson for Delhi police, told the Press Trust of India, “It is a case of attempted burglary. Those living in the house got alerted. They caught him and beat him up.” He added that the Nigerian man was “medically examined as he had injuries”.
Pawan Kumar, a local, told Indian newspaper The Hindu, “We don’t care if he is African or Indian or of any other nationality. For us, he is a thief.”
However, people on social media have decried what they see as a racist attack.
In March, a dozen African students were attacked by mobs in Greater Noida, east of Delhi, after an Indian student died in an unrelated incident. They were accused of killing him with a deliberate drug overdose and of cannibalism.
Racist attacks against African people in India have been going on for years. In 2014, The Observers covered a violent fight in a metro in Delhi, in which members of the public attacked three African students. In 2016, a Congolese man was killed by locals when he hailed the same rickshaw as them.
© The Observer/ Catherine Bennett/France24