New Delhi, March 26: Residents of an enclave in Greater Noida allegedly barged into a flat occupied by Nigerian students and searched their refrigerator for the remains of a youth who died in a hospital after he was found in a nearby park.
The unproven suspicion of cannibalism, which led the residents to search the refrigerator, is being seen as the latest manifestation of prejudices that African students face in the capital and its adjoining areas.
"They accused them of being cannibals. That is the kind of ignorance against black people," Samuel Jack, the president of the Association of African Students in India (AASI), told The Telegraph.
The youth, 19-year-old Manish Kumar, was reported missing at the National Security Guards Black Cat Enclave in Greater Noida, 40km from here, on Friday night. The residential complex was originally meant for retired Black Cat commandos but several of them had sold the flats to prosperous farmers in the neighbourhood over the years.
Alerted by the Nigerians, who are students of Noida International University, about the intrusion on Friday night, police took them into "protective custody".
The next morning, Manish was found lying in the park nearby. He passed away in a private hospital on Saturday afternoon and the cause of death was stated to be "unknown poisoning".
The police handed over the five Nigerians to their friends this morning after protests by the AASI outside Greater Noida's Kasna police station.
"Even after the boy (Manish) was found, his parents still got an FIR registered against the five students on charges of murder, abduction and doing drugs. They were released for a short while on Saturday before the police again took them in and kept them in custody all of Saturday through the night," Jack said.
He added that the police refused to accept a complaint from the AASI to register a case against Manish's family for falsely accusing the Nigerians.The AASI has taken the students to an undisclosed location.Kasna police station house officer Avnish Dixit said: "We brought them here on their request, from a security point of view. The locals were angry when the boy went missing. After he was found, his parents took him to the hospitalwhere he passed away. No one was detained. They were only kept in the police station for their protection."
Rural SP Sujata Singh said: "We don't have substantial proof against the students. These people first accused them of kidnapping and eating up Manish. Once the boy was found, and he passed away, the family put pressure to register a murder case."
Singh added: "Local channels have misreported this as cannibalism. This is false. Only the post mortem report will reveal what is the cause of death."
An official of Noida's Yatharth Super Speciality Hospitals said: His father, Mr Kiran Pal, said he was given drugs by Africans."
A resident of the enclave, Nandini Chaturvedi, told TV channels yesterday: "I have known Manish for nine years and he was a good boy studying for his 12th board exams. His mother Mamta told me that he had refused to talk to the Negroes when they waved to him two days before the incident. Recently, two dogs went missing. The Africans may have eaten them up."