Once a hub, few Africans left in Khirki Extension

Facing discrimination, Africans have left south Delhi area

March 29, 2017 01:24 am | Updated 08:25 am IST - New Delhi

Exodus: Most Africans have moved base to Kishangarh, Vasant Kunj, Hauz Rani and Neb Sarai.

Exodus: Most Africans have moved base to Kishangarh, Vasant Kunj, Hauz Rani and Neb Sarai.

As tensions rise between Africans and local residents in Greater Noida over the death of a schoolboy, the site of a similar conflict in Delhi over three years ago presents a grim pointer to what may lie ahead.

Khirki Extension in south Delhi was a hub for the African community for many decades, but in 2014 former Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti led a midnight raid in a house in the locality, charging its residents with prostitution and drug peddling.

Since then, the Africans have slowly moved out of the area due to rising tension and discrimination.

It started in 2014

“It was after the raid [by Mr. Bharti] that they [Africans] started moving out of here. Partly, because they felt threatened and partly because owners stopped giving them houses. Many owners don’t want to rent their houses to them because they’re not sure of their activities. Also, they are scared of them,” said B. M. Pandey, a real estate agent.

“Around 95% of the Africans living in the area have moved out,” an employee of a real estate agent, not wishing to be named, told The Hindu .

Most have moved base to Kishangarh, Vasant Kunj, Hauz Rani and Neb Sarai.

But up until three years ago, Africans who came to the city to study or settle down saw Khirki Extension as their home. They had even started small businesses such as saloons and cloth shops to support themselves.

However, after the continuous discrimination faced by the people of the community in the area, things have changed.

“Do they want to kill us all?” asked 37-year-old Divine, owner of one of the few saloons left in the area. He has been living in the area for the past nine years. Unaware of the incident that took place in Greater Noida on Monday, Mr. Divine said he they have been subjected to such treatment for years.

‘I avoid contact’

“To avoid such incidents, I don’t interact with any Indian. I only speak to them for work. For instance, I speak to my owner to pay rent and similarly with vendors,” said Mr. Divine’s 26-year-old friend, a student in a south Delhi college who did not wish to be named.

Explaining the treatment of the local residents, he said: “If I am walking with an Indian girl, they’ll think I’ll take her to a corner and rape her.”

Right opposite Mr. Divine’s saloon, is a small eatery. Its owner Mohammed Rashid proved the assumption right: “These people are not into good business. These women roam in the night on the roads and we don’t know what they do.”

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