Protest Against Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti’s Racist Vigilantism in Delhi: Kavita Krishnan
JANUARY 18, 2014
by Shuddhabrata Sengupta
Guest Post by KAVITA KRISHNAN
Many of us have felt disturbed by the implications of the incident involving the Delhi Law Minister’s attempted raid on African nationals in Khidki village.
The Minister, Somnath Bharti, (a member of the Aam Aadmii Party) insisted that the police conduct a raid minus a search warrant. Two African women have said, on record, that they were subjected to racist abuse (‘black people break laws’) and beaten by a mob of people (the Minister’s supporters), and that it was the Delhi police who protected them from the mob violence.
[ See Aditya Nigam’s post on the same issue in Kafila earlier ]
There are also reports that one of the women was forced to give a urine sample in public. The women were also subjected to cavity searches and tests – none of which yielded any sign of drugs. The violence against the women was defended in the name of anger against ‘prostitution’ and ‘drug peddling’, while no proof of the same has been presented as yet. In any case, the treatment meted out to the women cannot be justified even if they were indeed prostitutes!
According to news reports, the Minister, Somnath Bharti, asked locals to draw up a list of African nationals’ residences – ‘jahan aise log rehte hain/where such people live’, vowing to raid and search each of these homes. He also told media, “I have received a lot of complaints from women in this locality against foreign nationals, yeh hum aur aap jaise nahin hain (They are not like you or me).”
If indeed the Minister has any intelligence input, or proof, of illegal activity, he must pursue action in a way that responsibly avoids fanning up racist prejudices. When Delhi police fails to uphold its legal, constitutional duty, we all protest, and we will be glad to have the Delhi Govt and its Ministers also join us. But for a Minister to instigate Police to violate the law and people’s liberties and rights; to ask the police to approve of and bless mob violence against African people, is totally unacceptable.
The Delhi CM should have met the African women who complained of racism, violence and humiliation. He should have accepted that in this particular instance, the Delhi Police were perfectly right not to raid without a warrant, and to protect the African nationals from mob violence. He should have initiated a proper impartial probe and awaited its results before rushing to defend his Minister’s actions.
Instead, the Delhi CM defended the actions with the bizarre claim that ‘Rape tendencies start with drug and sex rackets.
[See – NDTV Report on Dellhi CM Kejriwal’s Comments on Recent Gang Rape of Danish Woman in Delhi]
Kejriwal and his Cabinet have also announced that they will hold a sit-in demanding suspension of the Delhi Police officers who refused to do the Minister’s bidding.
It is ironic that the rape of a Danish woman in Delhi is recognised as violence against a woman – a foreign guest in our country. But the violence and appalling violation of rights to which African woman were subjected isn’t recognised by the Delhi Government as the same – and is even defended in the name of fighting ‘rape tendencies’!
We cannot forget that an African student, Yannick Nihangaza from Burundi, was brutally attacked in 2012 in Jallandhar, Punjab, going into a coma from which he emerged after nine months. There have been growing instances of xenophobia, racism and violence against Africans in Goa and other parts of the country too. People from the North East states also experience racist prejudice and violence regularly in Delhi and elsewhere. We urgently feel the need to counter the spread of the racist virus in the capital city.
Please join a peaceful sit-in at Jantar Mantar, on Sunday (19 January):
• To ask that the judicial probe ordered by the Lieutenant Governor identify those responsible for instigating and perpetrating mob violence against African nationals, including African women in Khidki village. To demand that those guilty of such violence be punished.
• To strongly counter racist hate-speech of the Law Minister
• To strongly resist the racist propaganda that ‘all Africans are drug peddlers’
• To tell the Delhi Govt that the Delhi Police cops who protected Africans from mob violence and refused to raid without search warrant, must not be suspended. Delhi Police should be held accountable to the law and to the Constitution, not to the bidding of political leaders
• To strongly say ‘Not in our name’: to assert that profiling of and violence against African women will not make Indian women any safer from rape; to tell the Delhi CM to stop using rape as a pretext to defend racism
• To create a space for African nationals in Delhi to share their experiences. To tell the people of Delhi that Africans ‘bilkul hum aur aap jaise hi hain’ (are just like you and me).
Please take time out on Sunday 12 noon Jantar Mantar to join in large numbers, come with friends and family, with banners and placards, to dispel the clouds of racism that hang over Delhi…Do endorse this call and circulate it widely.
Organised by AIPWA, JNUSU, AISA, RYA and other organisations and individuals.
Contact: Sucheta De (9868383692)