Emotions poured out when residents of Maidan Garhi and Rajpur Khurd village attended a peace meeting with the police on Sunday. But as the meeting progressed, bitterness raised its ugly head.
These meetings are part of the police’s initiative to broker peace between the locals and the African nationals, who were allegedly attacked by some locals last Thursday.
Accused of racism, the residents said they were pained at being “labelled” that way despite being hospitable to Africans since years. “It is unfair to paint us like that. Our village is infamous now, and for what? For several years, more than 400 natives of the African community have been living here. If we wanted them to leave, why would we give them houses on rent in the first place,” said a resident of the village.
The objections came next. The residents questioned their [Africans] drinking habits and other aspects of their lifestyle. Among the other issues raised were the ‘noise’ African nationals allegedly make after drinking and the non-settlement of dues with shopkeepers who give them products on credit.
The maximum emphasis, however, was laid on how the African women dress. In fact, the locals minced no words and advised the African women to “wear proper clothes.”
“We will not tolerate women wearing skimpy clothes,” said a woman resident, Krishna. She claimed that her sons had hit an African that night after he jumped into their house. “I think it (attacking them) was the right thing to do,” she said.
The conversation later digressed to some people demanding a complete ouster, while others justified the incidents as scuffles.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Ishwar Singh, who chaired the meeting, warned the locals against taking the law into their hands, besides trying to find a solution to the impasse. When asked if the Africans staying there was beneficial for the locals, considering they are willing pay higher rents, a few people said they could do without it.
The residents questioned their [Africans] drinking habits and other aspects
of their lifestyle, like how the women dress