What makes Goa worried - skin colour or drug trade?

Why makes Goa worried - skin-colour or drug trade?
Death of a Nigerian national in Goa has snowballed into a much bigger issue now. As the Twitter, Facebook communities suggest, the incident is undoubtedly yet another instance of India's infamous racism and ethnic sterotyping.

As both the nations - India and Nigeria- are fast getting into dialogues to solve the diplomatic problems, locals in Goa have decided that they will not rent houses to Nigerians any more. Besides, the government has begun a crackdown on Nigerians living in the state. Allegedly a minister in Goan cabinet equated Nigerians to 'wild animals' and 'cancer'.

Politicians in Goa say Africans pose security threats to the locals. "Most of the Nigerians living in Goa are involved in drug deals", Michael Lobo, an MLA from the ruling party, reportedly said. Posters saying "We want peace in goa, Say No to Nigerians, Say No to drugs", are all over the state, reports NDTV.

Although there are police records which prove that people from different countries and communities are involved in drug trade in Goa, Africans are harassed the most. Instead of investigating the murder and controlling the flourishing drug trade, Goan police and locals have lashed out against the entire Nigerian community living in Goa.

Twitter and Facebook users widely slam the incident as yet another instance of India's racism, while Goans see it as a security issue. "Nigerian attacked, killed in Goa, African in coma in Punjab, India must face up to its racist shame", tweeted Kavitha Krishnan, president of All India Progressive Women's Association. Television personality Siddhartha basu tweeted, "Though it is whites who are known to control the flourishing drug trade in Goa, the call to deport all Africans there is downright racist".

Racist sterotyping is not something new in India. Indians love to believe that all people from North-east are either hair-stylists or cooks. We believe skin-colour determines one's social behaviour.

'All we want here is for Indians to understand we are not drug dealers'


Africans in India are often looked at with suspicion. Because for Indians, 'Negros' are drug-peddlers, criminals and kidnappers. 

There are more than 50,000 Nigerians living in India. The number could be much more as there are many who live illegaly. Getting an Indian visa is relatively easier for Nigerians. Presence of good universities and ample opportunities make India a favourite destination for them.

Most of the African students living in various campuses in India find their Indian classmates friendly and helpful. Sometimes they face mild racial slurs, but most of the students admit that they have learned to take them light.

But issues get bigger when Africans try to find a job, rent an apartment or fall in love with a local.

In April 2013, BBC published a report about racial discrminiations faced by Africans living in Mumbai. The report says that a Nigerian national, married to an Indian woman in Mumbai, was detained by Mumbai police for drug trafficking. Despite having valid documents, he was arrested by the police, along with 30 other Africans. They were detained for hours before they were let off with an apology. His wife says that she was isolated, insulted by her friends and relatives for marrying a Nigerian.

"We look after Indians in our countries. They have become rich there. All we want here is for Indians to understand we are not drug dealers. We are not violent. We are just like them", says an African living in Mumbai.

However, many residents in Goa disagree with the media reports. Born in Leipzig, and presently living in Panaji, Choyin Dorje claims that the media here has been vehemently "chauvinistic" and "anti-foreigner", as against how locals privately feel.

"Goan media expresses their chauvinistic 'anti-foreigner' views blatantly, whereas in private most locals are tolerant," he says.
Nevertheless, government is determined to go ahead with the crackdown on Nigerians in Goa. It is certainly more important to deal with the huge drug trade in Goa than to evict all Nigerians from the state. But then, ethnic sterotyping and stirring up regional sentiments is always easier for political parties and media.

OneIndia News

(With agency inputs)

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