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African, NE students, Irom Sharmila join hands to fight racism

Asad Ashraf | New Delhi |

Days after a delegation of government officials led by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi represented India at the 27th session of Universal Periodic Review of United Nations Humans Rights Council, reports said Rohatgi said Indians cannot be racist and all crimes committed against different races cannot be termed racism. 

Confronting this position of the AG, the Association of African Students in India released a letter saying, “Recent attacks faced by students of African origin across the country and continuing discrimination shows that the Government of India is not serious about confronting the issue of racism."

Speaking at a conference in Delhi, president of AASI Samuel Jack said in India it’s not just students from the African community but also students from Northeastern states and other minorities who face discrimination. 

“It is not just us but people from different parts of India and minorities are being subjected to racial and communal slurs based on the colour of their skin, shape of their eyes and fall of their hair, students from Dalit and Bahujan backgrounds are discriminated  by the state as well as non-state actors despite constitutional safeguards," he said. 

“It is important for us to forge alliances with different oppressed groups within this country, we are in touch with different Dalit groups in India and are in the process of forming coalitions with them to fight racism," he added.

However, when asked if they were in touch with families of Akhlaq and Pahlu Khan’s family who were allegedly lynched to death by cow vigilantes, the president of AASI replied, “We are forming alliances with groups who face similar discrimination like us and we cannot interfere in internal matters of the country."

Irom Sharmila, who was also attending the conference with African Students, expressed her displeasure at the recent attacks on Africans in India and compared it with what people from Northeastern states face on a daily basis. 

“Even if our origins and our struggles to assert our rights have their unique histories, the antipathy meted out to different communities in India seems to have been emerging from the same sources, same stereotypes against people who look different from you," she said. 

Samuel Jack informed the press that the passports of the students who were beaten up in Greater Noida on 27 March still remain withheld by the Noida police.