Let me, at the outset state that I feel almost bad taking on such a soft target . I say soft because there is nothing redeemable about Ashley Tellis’ hatred towards ‘dangerous’, ‘morally corrupt’, ‘threatening’ and most importantly ‘unfriendly’ Africans. However, because we are dealing with someone who stakes claim in political-critical thought (or so I am told), this is important to do.
While Tellis cursorily signposts the odd murder and some statements made by a few ministers, he dedicates the rest of the article to creating a portrait of these “Africans” (an all subsuming term that can accommodate an entire continent). By having been a resident of Kishangarh, a colony in Delhi where some ‘Africans’ also happen to live, he takes on the role of the expert in ‘African’ behavior. He produces eye witness accounts of the depravity of these people.
Guest Post by AASTHA CHAUHAN, MALINI KOCHUPILLAI, and several AFRICAN RESIDENTS OF DELHI
Dear Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, Mr.Yogendra Yadav and Aatishi Marlena,
Being witness to the events occuring in Khirkee this past month, we, a group of artists, architects, activists and local residents have felt the need to frame an open letter addressed to your party, the AAP & the public. The media-frenzy associated with these events has been accompanied by the usual kind of misinformation and hyperbole. However, in the ensuing noise, the real stories of the underlying racism that afflicts our society and the negative repercussions of the raid on the African residents of the neighborhood, have been lost. We hope this letter will clarify some facts and put across a few of our concerns.
Aashima Saberwal, Bonojit Hussain and Devika Narayan are activists associated with New Socialist Initiative (NSI). This article was published in the November 2010 issue of CRiTIQUE, an irregular magazine brought out by the New Socialist Initiative (NSI) – Delhi University Chapter.
Kevin is from Kenya. He studies at the faculty of Law. We ask him whether he likes India (he doesn’t) and about the kinds of challenges he faces. He shrugs and shakes his head “I have don’t face any discrimination” He often repeats this sentence at various points of the discussion. After he tells us about shopkeepers who refuse to sell him milk or before narrating how not a single shop at Patel Chest area was willing to type his assignment. “When you go to buy things from a shop they refuse to sell. If you ask for milk they say ‘no milk’ but you can see the Indians buying milk.” Later he tells us a similar story “My mobile phone was stolen. For one week I was thinking how to get a new one. The shops here don’t sell to Africans.” Kevin doesn’t think much of these experiences and dismisses them as insignificant, the ordinary trials of living in a foreign country. A woman on the road provokes a dog, provoking it to bite him, which it does. At Hans Charitable Trust Hospital they ask him for 10,000 rupees for the anti-rabbis injection. This is a service which is provided free of cost, however the small print reads ‘unless you are black’. Our interviews starkly shows that this particular subtext is present everywhere. We don’t realize that for the most mundane of daily activities (like buying milk) there are conditions that apply. The condition that you are not black.
These interviews give us a glimpse of how these students experience classrooms, hostels, streets, the metro and other public spaces. “What does kala bandar mean?” Boniface asks. They point. They laugh. They don’t like sitting next to you in the metro. What must it feel like to enter a strange foreign country where people across the board categorise you as sub-human? Strangers call you black monkey. “When I go back from college to hostel people on the streets keep laughing and staring. It is humiliating” Boniface says.
The savage greed of the civilized stripped naked its own unashamed inhumanity’
Africa, Rabindranath Tagore
Delhi Law Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Somnath Bharti’s midnight raid in Khirki village, during which he ordered policemen to search and enter houses, arrest people without warrants, and allegedly said that “black people, who are not like you and me, break laws” – strips naked the unashamed inhumanity of the Aam Aadmi Party regime’s moral posturing. Underneath the holier-than-thou mask of that moral posture lies the unmistakably horrible sneer of the ordinary racist thug. This is the real face of Somnath Bharti. I hope it is a face that the Aam Aadmi Party can turn itself away from.
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! Continue reading Protest Against Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti’s Racist Vigilantism in Delhi: Kavita Krishnan→