“When other African students are treated violently in this city, I get angry and I keep thinking that it could happen to my friends and I, and yesterday it actually happened,” Endurance Amalawa told me, on 28 March 2017, when I met him at Kailash Hospital in Greater Noida. The previous day, after a protest march turned violent, a mob of protestors had attacked and severely injured Endurance and at least three other Nigerian students in the Pari Chowk area in Greater Noida. The protesters had received permission from the police department to carry out a peaceful candle light march for Manish Khari, a twelfth-standard student who died, purportedly due to drug overdose, on 25 March. In his police complaint, Khari’s father alleged that five Nigerian men, who stayed in the same colony, were responsible for his death because they had given him the drugs that led to an overdose. But the Nigerian students who were attacked on 27 March were not residents of NSG Black Cats Enclave—where Khari’s family resides—and knew little about what had happened with Khari when they were attacked.
According to a report in the Indian Express, Khari was last seen walking outside his house at 7.30 pm on the day before his death. Later that night, Khari did not return home. His family and neighbours decided to look for him. They reportedlyforced themselves into the house of the five Nigerian residents, whom they suspected to be involved in his disappearance. Upon failing to find Khari in the house, Kiranpal, Khari’s father, filed a complaint at the Kasna police station. In his initial complaint, Kiranpal alleged that the five men had kidnapped and cannibalised his son. Two of them were present in their house at that time. The police took them into preventive custody for questioning, and released them later that night.
On 25 March, Khari’s father was at the Kasna police station at 9.30 am, when he learned that his son had returned home. An hour later however, when Khari complained of heart palpitations and started to vomit, he was admitted to Yatharth Hospital. He died later that afternoon.
Avnish Dixit, the station house officer (SHO) at Kasna police station, told me that Khari’s family subsequently alleged that their Nigerian neighbours had given him the drugs that led to his death. Upon the family’s complaint, the police added charges of murder and causing hurt by any poisonous substance to the complaint against the five men that had been filed the previous night. On 26 March, the police took them for questioning, but released them on the same day “because there wasn’t any evidence against them.”
Police officials have told the media that Khari’s post-mortem report states that the cause of death is uncertain and that further tests will be conducted at a forensic lab in Agra to determine the exact cause of death. I spoke to Kiranpal Khari on the phone on 29 March. He told me that the police have sought four days to thoroughly investigate the reasons behind his son’s death. When I asked him about the release of his five neighbours due to lack of evidence, he said, “I know that they are responsible.” He continued, “My younger son saw Manish vanish with them that night, but the police are refusing to take his word for it because he is 12 years old.” He told me he believed that there would be no drug problem if the Nigerians left the neighbourhood. “They come here and overstay their welcome even after they finish their courses only because they profit from the selling of drugs here. The police never seem to arrest them for this,” he said.