New Delhi: African students living in Hyderabad have alleged that police have used the pretext of verifying documents to barge into their homes, in some cases even after midnight. Even when coming during the day, the Association of African Students in India alleged in a statement, the police come in large numbers, making it seem like they are responding to a serious crime rather than carrying out a routine check.
“The Association of African of Students India hereby wishes to use this medium to express its dismay over the unlawful and unethical conduct of the Hyderabad police. There has been several arrest over documents expiration and we are not against the police conducting search for students with expired documents, but the manner in which the police of the state do so is alarming and unacceptable. They go to student’s apartment at odd times, banging at their doors and asking for their documents, in the process creating unnecessary panic and attracting attention of locals thereby portraying African students as criminals which is a wrong impression that breeds stereotypes and by extension discrimination,” the statement said.
According to a report in The Hindu, Ajah O. Peter, president of the association, received over 15 complaints from across the city, including Sainikpuri, Banjara Hills, Toli Chowki and Sun City areas, where a majority of the students live.
Peter said he has been going around the police stations in the city to make sure nobody is detained without cause. At Banjara Hills police station, he told The Hindu, he found three African students who had valid documents. He also found some who had come from colleges in UP to visit their friends, without carrying their documentation.
Even students who do not have documents, association representatives told The Hindu, are not engaged in illicit activities but simply waiting for their families back home to send their tuition fees, without paying which they cannot renew their permits. “Owing to financial difficulties, our parents might not be able to send us money on time. If documents expire before that, we would be helpless,” a student said.
Police officers at Kushaiguda and Neredmet police stations denied that any checks had been carried out in the middle of the night when contacted by The Hindu.
The Association of African of Students in India has asked Indian authorities to treat African students with more respect and protect them from racial stereotyping and attacks, to prove that “Africa and India shared future is not a mirage”.
“As a student Association that caters for the well-being of African students across India, we wish to categorically state however that we are not in India illegally and have every right to demand to be treated with decency. We do not support any form of illicit trade and we are therefore calling on the appropriate authorities to deploy every means within the ambits of the law to exercise their duties because failure is to further institutionalise discrimination which is plaguing the African Students Community in India as a result victimising innocent students legally here to study,” the association’s statement said.