Even as residents of Khirki Extension in South Delhi, where Law Minister Somnath Bharti got a “vigilante raid” conducted last week in a purported bid to bust an alleged prostitution and drug racket, claimed that they were quite satisfied with the action against the policemen following the Chief Minister’s agitation, a sense of unease gripped nationals of African countries there.
“The situation has undoubtedly improved since Mr. Bharti took up our cause. All kinds of things were said about him and the Aam Aadmi Party members who had tried to help us. The street where we are standing right now is the very spot where foreign nationals milled around looking for customers. Since the midnight raid and subsequent agitation, their numbers have dwindled. It is only because of APP efforts that police patrolling has intensified,” said Nancy George, a member of the Khirki Extension residents’ welfare association, on Tuesday evening.
Although locals by and large saw the action against the policemen as a positive step, they fear a “backlash from the cops who are now under the scanner”.
Not surprisingly, the upbeat mood among the locals made their African neighbours apprehensive about their own safety. This reporter saw a patrol staff asking three foreign nationals to return to their homes. When asked by the cops where they were headed, the women told them that they were going to a nearby shopping mall. The answer failed to convince their “interrogators”.
While foreign nationals residing in the area were not forthcoming with their views, an African woman alleged that on Tuesday evening she was attacked by some area residents, who threatened her with dire consequences asking her not to loiter about and instead stay at home during night.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a constable claimed that nearly half the Africans deported from the Capital in the past year were from Khirki Extension. For their part, residents alleged that for short-term gains, property dealers and landlords were allowing foreigners to reside without properly checking their antecedents and also bribing their way out of police verification. They shared many rags-to-riches stories of middlemen who made millions in a very short time by arranging rented accommodations for foreigners.
The locals claimed that the dealers have vanished from the scene ever since the Delhi Government took up their issue.