Violent protests broke out in Delhi’s Tilak Nagar on Sunday (March 28) as the fellow countrymen of a 43-year-old Nigerian national who died at Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) hospital took to the streets, holding police responsible for the death.
While the police maintained that the Nigerian national Leohand Lyeanyi died after sustaining head injury due to a fall, the protesters including his kin alleged that the man died due to assault by cops.
Police said the protesters created a ruckus and broke glasses at the DDU hospital following the Nigerian’s death. Initially, they were around 20 to 30 people, but their numbers increased to 100. The mob also attacked the local people and police personnel, police added.
“Lyeanyi died because a Delhi Police personnel hit him with a lathi on his head. He lost consciousness and fell to the ground,” Jose Giddy, kin of the deceased told The Federal.
Sources said, Tilak Nagar Police on Sunday stopped three Nigerian citizens for verification and told them to produce their ID proof. But instead of showing ID proof, the trio allegedly started running away, forcing the cops to chase them. Police resorted to a lathi charge on the Nigerians thereafter, the sources added.
Denying the charges, police maintained that the victim was not hit by them and his medico-legal case (MLC) report showed no external injury on the body.
A senior police officer told the media that they received information about Lyeanyi’s death at around 3.30 am on Sunday from the DDU hospital. He said the post-mortem report of the victim is awaited.
Police also said that they have found CCTV footage in which the victim could be seen stepping out of an auto-rickshaw and sitting near a shop. He then collapsed, hitting his head on the ground. There was nobody around him, they said.
Two cases have been registered against the violent mob, police said, adding that a probe into the case is underway. Police personnel in large numbers have been deployed in the area to control the situation.
It is estimated that there are more than 2,500 Nigerians living in Delhi, but neither the Indian police nor the Nigerian High Commission has details on the number of Nigerians currently residing in India. Many Nigerians are also found in several unauthorised colonies or living illegally in Delhi.
The All India Nigerian Students and Community Association (AINSCA), a non-official arm of the Nigerian embassy that helps members of the community living in India, said, “Nigerians are subject to discrimination in Indian society. Many Indians associate Nigerians with crime and around 500 Nigerians are held in various jails across India. These perceptions have led to numerous hate crimes against Nigerian students.”
AINSCA added that it is in constant touch with the Delhi Police and the High Commission of Nigeria regarding the incident as well.