Police action inhuman, say African students

The members of the Pan-African Federation and Students’ Union at a press conference in the city on Wednesday.

Critical about the recent police action against Africans living in Bengaluru, the Pan-African Federation and Students’ Union on Wednesday termed the recent police raids as ‘inhuman’ and demanded that the police accept them as any other foreign nationals.

Addressing a press conference in Bengaluru, the federation office-bearers said that the recent police action has created panic among the community.

Acknowledging that the community students are in the grip of fear, the office bearers demanded that the Foreign Regionals Registration Office (FRRO) be given powers to extend student visas for foreign nationals.

However, the office bearers hailed the work of several senior police officers with special reference to former additional commissioner of police (Crime) P Harishekaran.

“He was the first officer to really relate with the Africans. He would personally visit police stations and tell them how to interact with people from Africa. If the same officer is reinstated, then things may settle down,” said Bosco Kawweesi, an advocate of the federation.

Dedicated officer

Following clashes with African students in 2015, Harishekaran had collaborated with African community leaders to create the African Students Coordination Committee (PASCC) to address grievances faced by students.

The federation demanded that a dedicated officer be appointed to coordinate between FRRO and Africans, sanction bail to the Africans arrested during the raid last month and close cases against those overstaying on their visas enabling them to return home.

As of Wednesday, one Nigerian and one New Guinean had been released on bail, with two Nigerians scheduled for release on Thursday, according to Kaweesi.

Lawyers are currently working to help three pregnant women receive bail on Monday, according to various representatives.

Preye, president of the Nigerian Students Union, expressed anguish over FRRO for refusing to grant visa extensions to students in the first place and delaying the delivery of exit papers. “We need the process to be speeded up if an African wants to go home,” he demanded.

Lack of proper papers

FRRO senior officer Labhu Ram (IPS) told DH that Africans often lack the proper documentation to receive extensions or exit papers.

“We are granting if they have all the documents. Many times they do not,” Ram said, adding, “If they have any grievances, they can come to our office and we will try to resolve them.”

Many African, however, are leaving anyway, citing concerns about growing animosity toward their communities. Bosco admitted his belief that “the law is being implemented selectively”.

On Wednesday night, one Nigerian man was detained at Kothnur police station for overstaying his visa.

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Police action inhuman, say African students

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