In the drama of the last four days, the culpability of the Delhi Government and its Law Minister regarding the incident on January 15th 2014, against four Nigerian and Ugandan women in particular stands exposed. Despite public outcry, issues relating to the heightened sense of insecurity amongst Africans in the capital and the removal of the Law Minister, remain largely unaddressed.
PUDR condemns the manner in which the Delhi Government has sought to make light of the actions of the Law Minister by citing the refusal of police personnel to act on complaints of local residents about alleged drug and sex trafficking. By ignoring to answer genuine concerns expressed against the manner in which the Law Minister appropriated all authority to take charge of the situation, the Government’s response does not explain why in the first place the Law Minister not helped residents lodge an FIR and get investigation started before presuming guilt of the African nationals. Second, it also is silent over the fact as to how he allowed two Nigerian and two Ugandan women to be held captive inside a taxi against their will and made to undergo medical examination including cavity search without their consent.
PUDR is of the view that the Law Minister must be held accountable as:
- To command the police to break into a house without an arrest warrant and detain people without due sanctions sets dangerous precedents, and gives further free license to the existing arbitrariness of the police. Such violations are completely unacceptable especially when the person involved is none other than the very authority who has to uphold the rule of law in the city.
- The Minister claims to have acted according to the complaints of some local residents who alleged that foreign nationals dealt in drugs and indulged in prostitution. No attempts were made by the minister to register a formal complaint with the police.
- The Minister had used his office to intimidate and exploit the dual vulnerability of these women compounded by racial difference, making him all the more culpable. In a move supposedly to make the city safe for women, the minister and his companions violated the women’s dignity and bodily integrity by forcing them to give urine samples for drug testing.
- Exhibiting a strong streak of racism the minister has translated cultural and racial difference “Yeh hum aur aap jaise nahin hai” (they are not like you and me) into difference of basic rights and freedoms. In a highly reprehensible act amounting to racial profiling the minister has allegedly asked locals of the Khirki Extension area to prepare a list of houses of African nationals who he claimed were involved in prostitution and drug racket. The ‘law’ minister has in effect given scope for further intolerance, and heightened existing tensions, instead of safeguarding the rights of African peoples, subjected to the deeply racist attitude of Indian society which associates foreign nationals with illegal or immoral activity
PUDR strongly condemns and demands action against the Law Minister for his acts of racism, gender harassment, and unlawfulness in violation of all democratic and human rights. The Law minister should be asked to resign or ‘go on leave’ as the Police personnel has been made to do, so that the truth may be allowed to come out. Also measures at ensuring the safety and security of African and other foreign nationals living in the capital are put in place by the Delhi government at the earliest.
D. Manjit and Asish Gupta