Inmates of African origin in India have complained of racism and constant abuse by prison officials in the country.
According to a report published in TheIndianExpress, Africans are commonly referred to as ‘habshis’. They are looked down upon as a group within the broader jail community.
The report says Nigerians dominate the list of African inmates in Indian prisons. There is no mingling between the African inmates and Indians in jail, except during the open hours as they are not kept together.
The report partly reads, “The other, an equally endemic matter, is that of discrimination against foreign inmates. As per the records last updated on February 29, there are roughly 70 foreign inmates in Tihar. Apart from South Asians, mainly from Bangladesh and Nepal, there are several from Africa, with Nigerians topping the list.
“For all these women, however unpleasant or unfriendly it may be, Tihar jail serves as their home, and they have strung together in comradeship to tide over their everyday difficulties. However, the sisterhood between African women and other prisoners, especially Indians, rarely translates into more substantial solidarity, as the jail as an institution is embedded in our culture.
“Not surprisingly, racism thrives in Tihar, the Africans are commonly referred to as habshis and looked down upon as a group within the broader jail community. Lodged separately, there is no intermingling between prisoners except during the open hours. There are similar disconcerting reports about 12 women foreign nationals (of a total of 129 from Asia, Africa and other European countries) who participated in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in March and are currently detained in Puzhal central prison in Tamil Nadu.
“The silence on racism within jail complexes is disturbing. The June 16 raises questions about normalisation of racist violence within penal institutions. It, therefore, falls on us to demand that our institutions and media should make known all facts related to such incidents of violence.”
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to life to all, including foreign nationals lodged in jails.