Congolese nationals arrested in Punjab, a 'real hell for black Africans'

 
 
The recent arrest of 21 Congolese students by police in Jalandhar, a city in northwestern India, has angered the black African community in the state of Punjab. Local Congolese say there is an intolerably racist atmosphere in the state.
 
The Congolese students were arrested on Saturday at a bus stop in Jalandhar, near the university named “Lovely Professional” where they are enrolled.
 
The reasons for their detention remain unclear. According to a representative from the Jalandhar police, the authorities were investigating luggage theft that occurred the day before at the same bus stop and were verifying the identity of the Congolese nationals. According to the police, the students allegedly refused to obey, hit them, and broke the camera of a journalist present on-scene. The Indian media are reporting this version of the story.
 
In a message sent to the Congolese embassy in New Delhi, the Congolese Community of India (CCI) explained that a group of Indians had directed racist slurs and threats at one of the Congolese students. The student called his friends and a fight broke out. The police questioned the Indians and Congolese involved in the fight; however, following the questioning, none of the Indians were detained, while the Congolese were kept in detention.
 
On Sunday, June 16, the Congolese nationals were transferred from the police station to the court of Jalandhar. Video posted on YouTube.
 
The students appeared before the court immediately and were placed in pre-trial detention for 14 days (the maximum length of detention allowed by law) after which time they will be judged. According to the CCI, who says it visited the detainees, “the detention conditions [of the Congolese students] are inhuman, and [the detainees] claim to have been subject to all kinds of insults and torture”.
 
When contacted by FRANCE 24, the secretary of the Embassy of Congo in India, Jean Baptiste Kasongo, said he “firmly condemns the events that took place” and that he found it suprising that only the Congolese are being judged. He called for “equitable justice” and expressed his displeasure that, in the eyes of the police, “the criminals could only be the Congolese”. FRANCE 24 also reached out to the Indian Interior Ministry, but to date none of its representatives has agreed to answer our questions. We will publish any answers as they come in.
 
The arrested Congolese were transferred to the court of Jalandhar on Sunday, June 16. Video uploaded to Facebook.

“They provoke us because they know that, whatever happens, it’s the black man who will be arrested”

Keita (not his real name) is an information technology (IT) student at the Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar. He was part of the group of Congolese brought in for questioning, but he managed to escape the police station where the police were interrogating them.
 
The Congolese student who was attacked by several Indians, which is what sparked the fight, is one of my friends. As he was taking money out of an ATM, a car headed straight toward him and bumped into him. The car “bumpings” perpetrated on black Africans are very common in Punjab as a means of intimidation and provocation, because they know that, whatever happens, it’s the black man who will be detained.
My friend then asked them what was going on, and the Indians got out of the car with cricket bats, saying they were going to get him. At that point, he called us, so we came to try to rescue him, which is when everything went downhill. [Editor’s note: FRANCE 24 could not independently verify this version of events].
 
The police were not aggressive when they arrested us. But once we were in the police station, they became increasingly threatening. When one of the policemen wasn’t paying attention to me, I managed to escape. I heard my friends yelling and saw from afar that the police were beating them.
 
“People make monkey noises at us”
 
As many Indian people—even police officers—see it, anyone who is black is suspicious. We are regularly accused of being drug dealers or alcoholics. I can’t go to the doctor without him or her asking me whether I take drugs.
Indians often call out “kalou” [editor’s note: “negro” in Hindi] while making monkey noises at us. Even the most banal daily activity becomes complicated for us. When we need to get administrative paperwork done, we often encounter people who speak to us in Hindi on purpose and make fun of us. Others tell us that India is already overpopulated and that we should leave.
 

“We get the impression that, to them, black people are cursed by the gods”

Christophe Okito is the president of the Association of African Students in India.
 
Africans come to India because student visas are easy to obtain, namely to study IT. There are about 500 to 600 black Africans in Jalandhar, including about 50 Congolese. Punjab is a very religious state [Editor’s note: 60% of Punjabis are Sikhs and the state is home to the holiest site in Sikhism, the Golden Temple]. Generally speaking, foreigners are not welcome here. There is a greater tendency here, relative to elsewhere in India, to shun those not in your religious or ethnic group.
We really get the impression that many of them truly believe that black people are cursed by the gods, destined to be slaves, whereas white people here as seen as intrinsically successful. The intolerance and racism make Punjab a real hell for black Africans. This is less the case in New Delhi, where the population is far more diverse.
 
And it’s not the first time that a black person is attacked by Indians in Punjab. In April 2012, a young man from Burundi was beaten up and spent nine months in a coma. The situation is getting so bad that we are seriously considering getting all Congolese students not in their final year to transfer universities in New Delhi for their own safety.
 
This new injustice has caused all the black Africans in Jalandhar to unite and we plan to organise protest activities to condemn this racism we are made to suffer.
 

Comments

We Love Black Human beings

I A Sorry From All Our India.Beleive Me We Dont Hate Africans.We Respect Them.Africans are also creature of God.we all are human beings no matter what the colour is.There are no difference between souls.
i request to my Indian people that dont be heartless,dont be like other countries which hate africans.they are our brothers.respect them love them afterall we r INDIANS.

Mera Sona Punjab

sab to pehli gal. people should research the are they are going to. Punjab is my home and i am custom to my land. i know that some police officers are crooks over there however most of them are great officers. just because the students are black does not mean that Punjab police are racist. if they got a beating then the punjabis got a beating too. that's what Punjab police are good for. they know how to punish people for the bad things that they do. half of the Indian population is dark complexion. so race shouldn't even play a factor in this. the bottom line is a fight broke out between two groups and with them being in Punjab of course Punjab police are going to show up. However i cant speak for all the students there. of course everybody has they're own ego and wants to prove how bad they are, but fighting doesn't fix anything, especially in Punjab. and in my opinion Punjab is one of the most religious places in the world. Punjab welcomes anyone who wishes to visit. so before everyone gets quick to judge not only mine but about a few million Punjabis homeland think to yourself. there are two sides to every story and who are we to judge who is wrong and who is right.

Are you still staying in

Are you still staying in Punjab? I agree sada Punjab Sohna hai.. But you probably are blind to the ill treatment that the migrant laborers especially from the states of Bihar and UP receive in mera Sohna Punjab.. Its a fact that I guess you need to agree to that the society in Punjab in general has become extremely intolerant, they misbehave with their own countrymen, let alone the Foreigners! Its shameful and disappointing but TRUE.

Why are African students doing in Punjab in the first place?

When I think about Educational Meccas Punjab doesn't exactly jump out at me. Even Indians themselves flock to western universities in great numbers. India is a racist society and dark skinned people are automatically a the bottom. Why African students insist on going there to study is beyond me.

b cos they get fee waivers

b cos they get fee waivers from private universities of punjab, to make them famous for their international enrollments

India picking on Blacks.

Suppose to be a religious country...WHAT A JOKE..

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A sad incident

Well, its a disturbing incident. As an Indian, I feel sad about it. I read about this case of a news portal some days back which shared a slightly different version. As I see, there are two aspects of this incident. As far as the issue of racism is concerned, my view remains that its somewhat misplaced. Like the news story mentions, some parts of India are more religious and unwelcoming to outsiders. It might be true to an extent but as an exception. Its not at all a case in general here. It will be foolish to assume such a version. While living in Delhi, I had made some amazing friends from Africa, who enjoyed a great life in the city. The mentioned university is a private institution. I am not much sure of what kind of assistance they provided to the concerned students. Its true that Police officials are more suspicious of African nations but it has much more to do with cases of drugs rather than a subjective prejudice. The prison situation in India is very nasty. But, that is a general situation here. If the judge ordered a pre-trial detention, there must be a cause for the same. Any country will follow the rule of law in case a law is broken. But, none of this classify Punjab or any other state as "hell for the black people". I hope the matter get resolved soon and students can continue with the studies. There are a lot of issues for which I myself am very critical of my country, but it is also a fact that after spending some time here one realizes the real beauty of this nation. Personally, I am highly embarrassed of the wrongful behavior faced by our Africans brothers in India. The legal system here is fair to all. Just today, the apex court of India has rebuked the Mumbai Police for mishandling the case involving some African businessman going to the extent of declaring that "Our country gets a bad name because of the acts of a few police officers and it is unfortunate". Available at

False progoda india at it again...

I just called my cousin in Punjab these blacks from the congo were are robbing and attacking houses at night. This is all government politics against the Punjabi's. There are black Sikhs of negro decent that wear turbans there is no discrimination...This is just to cause unrest in Punjab...the Government in Dehli always had problems with PUnjab now they are propogating violence...don't buy into this. The police does not even show to arrest these people...

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