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Crackdown on drugs makes African students insecure

New Delhi, June 11. African students here are unhappy at the close tabs kept on them by law enforcing agencies to check their suspected involvement in drug peddling. "We feel insecure as we are being looked at with suspicion by everyone. //People have begun to generalise every single African as a drug peddler. This is too harsh. We will take up the issue with our embassies," said Khalid Abdalla, an M. Phil student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here.

"Hearing the horrible experiences from my friends, we feel like staying in our rooms," Abdalla, who is also president of the Foreign Students Association of the university, told IANS.

Abdalla, who has been in India for the last nine years, said JNU students would soon conduct a debate over the issue along with students of other universities.

"After that we will approach both the Delhi Police and our embassies to rescue us from the generalisation syndrome," he said. According to him, people were asking African students - "Are you a Nigerian?"

There are over 100 students from Africa studying in three universities in the capital - JNU, Delhi University and Jamia Hamdard. Jamia Hamdard has the maximum number of African students, with a large number from Nigeria.

The focus has shifted to African students following the arrest of three Nigerians on charges of providing drugs for the June 1 party that led to the hospitalisation of Rahul Mahajan, the son of late Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pramod Mahajan, and the death of Bibek Moitra, the senior Mahajan's aide. Six other Nigerians were detained for questioning in the case.

Abdalla said though he loved India, he might not like to stay long with the feeling of insecurity looming large.

"No one should obstruct the law enforcing agencies in discharging their duties, but we should not be subjected to humiliation either."

Yahaya Lawal, a Nigerian from Jamia Hamdard, said all Nigerians were not drug peddlers and the arrest of a few people from their country should not hamper their day-to-day life. "To equate a few bad elements with all from the country is not fair."

"People here think all Africans are Nigerians. Now I am afraid of talking to Nigerians even if they are good people," admitted Khadir Mohammad, a B.Com student of Delhi University.

"A few days ago I went to a party in a hotel in Gurgaon where security guards frisked me more than the others which was embarrassing," said Yahya Abdalla, who is doing his Masters in computer science from Jamia Hamdard.

"To avoid the humiliation, I just left the place," he added.

Police officials admit they are keeping a close watch on African students for suspected drug peddling.

According to Narcotics Control Bureau officials, poverty and lack of education in many African countries had led to youths from there to join the illegal trade for quick money.

In 2005, 59 African nationals, including 41 Nigerians, were arrested in India on charges of drug peddling.

(Source: IANS)

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