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Millennium Post

Gossip mongers spread vile rumours on Africans via Whatsapp forwards

From the horn of Africa to the war ravaged Central Africa, a wave of African immigrants have migrated to India since the millennia making this country their home. They have been known by many names from the Siddis of Gujarat to the rebellious slaves in Delhi, but now they have are known by a different name – Cannibals.

The recent attack on Africans in Greater Noida has revealed the fault lines, as the Africans community were branded as Cannibals. This is not a new phenomenon as Africans in Delhi have been branded as cannibals based on fake news in the form of Whatsapp forwards and street gossip laying the foundations for a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

Millennium Post investigated the source behind the rumours and this reporter found that vitriol against Africans emanates from Whatsapp forwards, linking murder cases in which Africans were arrested to acts of cannibalism.

One such murder case took place around four years ago in South West Delhi's, Om Vihar phase-III area, in which a Nepalese woman was found, murdered inside her house and a Nigerian was arrested. This had set the tongues wagging as many had claimed that the Nigerian had consumed her flesh and packed her up in his fridge.

The Delhi Police had ruled out any cannibalism in it. But the locals have refused to believe it. "They (Africans), consume human flesh. In Om Vihar murder case a Nepali sex worker was killed and eaten up. It was all in the news and everyone covered it. The police also told us that the accused was a cannibal," claims Rohit a rickshaw puller.

This reporter revisited the murder spot to find that no such incident had taken place. "A woman was found dead and we had called the police as a foul smell was emanating from the house. She was definitely not eaten," said Shanti, a resident of Om vihar.

Rickshaw pullers have always viewed Africans from the prism of suspicion. They claim to consume news from Whatsapp forwards which show Africans in a bad light. "I just got this message about how Africans lure rickshaw pullers and then disappear. It was from a news outlet, I don't remember which one. But it definitely was real news," said Ramvir, a rickshaw puller.

The street talk is replete with such rumours as several residents gather around Gadha park, in Nawada and show this reporter spots where incidents of cannibalism took place. "Go to Papa house in Phase III or Om vihar's phase V, several such incidents have taken place," said Lallan, a shopkeeper.

None of them could show any evidence of such news and could not even recollect the newspaper which ran the story.

The Delhi Police have denied any such incidents have taken place in Delhi's crime history. "There have been no such cases off cannibalism involving Africans. We regularly conduct meetings with them to take the community into confidence," said JT CP RP Upadhaya, who is also the nodal officer for issues concerning African citizens.

But the damage has already been done, the African citizens that this paper talked to revealed that since they consume large amounts of meat in their diet which attracts rebuke from their Indian counterparts.

"My fridge is filled with meat, as I need a protein rich diet. I also consume beef. For us it is normal, but our Indian friends feel offended and then say that we eat human meat. I just laugh it off, but soon the rumour spread like wildfire and I was later confronted by a group who slapped me around accusing me of cannibalism," said Suleiman, a Nigerian.
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