While statements have emerged from the African nations and several of their unions stating that the attacks are racial, India has maintained these were crime related.
We have seen several times in the past incidents such as these involving African nationals. There were incidents in Bengaluru too in the years 2013 and 2016 involving African nationals.
There was a hue and cry and many were quick to term them as racial attacks, but detailed probes found that these were incidents relating to road rage.
Crime not racial:
In 2013, an Ivory Coast national, Wandoh Timothi had complained to the police that he had been beaten up by the locals. He said that his assaulters had hurled racial slurs against him.
The police probed the matter in-depth and found that the incident was a result of road rage. The locals and Timothi had entered into an argument which led to an assault.
The police did agree that during the attack racial slurs were hurled. However the police also clarified that Timothi was assaulted not because of his race, but due to road rage.
There is a difference here, the police state while completing condemning the use of racial abuses.
Another incident reported from Bengaluru in February 2014 took a similar turn. In this the allegation was that a Tanzanian student was assaulted. They were quick to once again term it as a racial abuse. This once again was a case of road rage. While there was some politics involved in this with a section in the opposition deciding to term it as a failure by the Karnataka government to curb racial abuse, the narrative was toned down as it threatened to blow into a full fledged diplomatic tussle.
Handling African nationals no easy job:
The police in various states have complained about African nationals. They party so hard that it causes a nightmare to the residents. The police say it is a very difficult situation to handle.
For one they are much bigger than the local beat constable who in most cases is unable to overpower them.
In this context one must recollect the incident in Goa where a gang of Nigerians held the police hostage during a protest. Another incident in which an African national assaulted a night beat police man in Bengaluru must also be mentioned here.
There have been various incidents reported on the Airport Road, Bengaluru involving these students. Drag racing, rash driving and also incidents of drug peddling in Kamanahalli have all been reported. In most of the cases, the police are threatened if they file complaints.
The standard answer that the police always get is that they will complain to their embassy. Most police stay away when the embassy threat is handed out.
This is because when a complaint goes up before an embassy it tends to blow into a diplomatic issue. We get such threats from drug peddlers also a police officer said.