22.11.2014 PUCL’s Fact Finding report on Tirupur town Nigerians issue (SOUTH- INDIA)
Tirupur Town known as the Dollar City of Tamil Nadu is famous for its hosiery garments trade throughout the World. The city is a cosmopolitan city with versatile culture.Adding to its versatile nature it accommodates people from foreign nations too.There are Nigerian and African Migrants who are also indulged in hosiery garments trade here at recent times. Localities of Royapuram area have alleged that the Nigerian youths, are involving in creating ruckus and becoming a menace to the women residing in Royapuram Area. Consequent to these allegation the local landlords have decided not to rent dwellings to the african nation and outcast them from the area. In this connection the PUCL decided to constitute a fact finding team to explore the truth behind the issue..The team visited the Tirupur town on 30th August and 3rd October 2014.
Members of the Fact finding team were
1. S. Balamurugan(Advocate), State General Secretary, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, Tamilnadu & Pondicherry.
2.Ezhil Subramaniyam, Social Activist, Tirupur.
3.D.Sekar Annadurai(Advocate), District Secretary, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, Coimbatore District.
4.M.Balachander, (Advocate), District President, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, Coimbatore District.
5.R.Eswaran, Tamilnadu progressive writer and artist association.(Tamilnadu murpoku ezhuthaalar mattrum kalaignargal sangam) Tirupur.
6.Prof. L.Ganapathy Murugan, District Co-Ordinator, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties,Cuddalore District.
Personal Interview Committee
1. P.Ganesan,Royapuram, Tirupur.(Gandhi Peoples Movement)
2. Balasubramaniyam, Businessman,Raayapuram,
3. Kannan, South Street, Tirupur.
4. Antony, Nigerian, Hosiery Merchant,Katharpettai,Tirupur.
5. Abina Betrik, Nigerian Social Welfare and Banian Merchants Association.
Nigerian Catholic Youth Society, Tirupur.
Commissioner Of police,Tirupur.
8. Rev.Edward, …………….Catholic Church,Tirupur.
Second Quality Banian Export Association, Kaatharpettai, Tiruppur.
10. Kumar, President, Second Quality Banian Export Association, Kaatharpettai, Tiruppur.
11. Thooyavan,Media person,Tirupur.
Nigeria had once been a British Colony in the African Continent like India in the Asia, The federal republic of Nigeria with majority of Islamic in the north and Christian population in the south, consists of 36 states as a whole. It is the most populated in Africa and gets Seventh place in the World population. It has close contact with India. About 10% of India’s demand in fuel is carried out from the import of crude oil from this country. The value of Nigerian trade with India is also estimated about 10 billion dollars in a year. It is also estimated that nearly 5 lakhs of Indian emigrants to Nigeria and about 50,000 Nigerian immigrants in India, and most of them are settled at Goa.
The underlying facts behind the Anti-Nigerian Agitation
The first and the best quality of hosiery garments have been exported to the developed countries of Europe and the U.S.A sometimes the rejected and damaged items from the exported commodities are returned and brought back to the local markets for sale. Such items known as 'second sale' are sold in the Katherpet area near Tirupur Railway Station. The Nigerians, who came here for the procurement of such items, became retailers at the beginning and began to export these items to their Country in due course. Later, they started producing hosiery garments and exported it to their Country themselves. The people who came with business visa settled in the rented houses and continued their business in the areas like Katherpet and Royapuram in Tirupur. Such 'second sale' business are prevalent still in this region. During such stay nigerians are charged usually exorbitant rent. They are indeed paying two are three times more than the rent paid by the local residents. Meanwhile, It was reported by the local news media about the Nigerian youths indulging in to the illegal activities since 2012. Smuggling of narcotize drugs through courier services, alleged to be attacking a special police Sub-Inspector of the North police station at Tirupur in 2014 and arrest the Nigerian violating the visa period are some of the charges against them. Samson, a Nigerian youth who was arrested said to have misbehaved with woman in the south street of Royapuram on August 2014. Soon the a section of local residents of the area along with local political groups resolved and issued a notification to all the house owners to evacuate the Nigerians . In Continuation of these events the Daily Thanthi newspaper carried a report under the heading “Women and the sexual harassment by the Nigerians” on 21.08.2014, Raj T.V Tamil channel also gave an abridged news as the Nigerians were involving in immoral activities in Tirupur. As a result the Committee of the PUCL organized an investigation in these areas to find the real happenings.
Objectives of the Committee
The main objective of the committee are to find out whether the Nigerians were involved any illegal activities as alleged by some local groups and media, to identify their social conditions, to trace the the problems as they are considered foreign nationals particularly third world developing countries and to recommend the ways and means for their honesty and dignity, Respect and social solidarity.
Impeachments against the Nigerians
The complainants of the area accused of the Nigerians of consuming liquor open places and altercate cruelly among themselves and also with the common folk. They are also blamed of rash driving in two wheelers.
Encyclopedia Britannica refers to the cultural background of the Nigerian as well. Liquor consumption, Night resorts are the order of their country except the Islamic area where prohibition is in practice. Festivals are celebrated as a part of their life right from the birth till the marriage of a person. Moreover, seafood, Beef, Meat and Chicken are important food of protein sources in their life.
Every one known’s that liquor consumption even in the common places has become quite obvious in the society and addition to liquor consumption is increasing every year in Tamilnadu. One can find the increases in the sale of liquor and number of consumers in Tirupur every year.Besides the team did not find any materials that substantiated that Niegerians consume liquor always in open places. Besides in Indian society caste persists as an important socio-psychological phenomenon in which popular belief among the local residents that Beef is consumed by mostly by untouchables known as dalits and muslims. So the age old social stigma on beef food reflecting against Niegerian. Despite, the Nigerians are criticized of having all these habits. The physical appearance, their articulation and gesture of the Nigerian folk are seem to be frightful and averse to the native people of the area. The Black complexion of these Niegerian is matter for the native people of diversified caste, creed in the social order of locality.
Apart from these, the fear among the local second quality hosiery garments ( banian) merchants on the emerging status of the Nigerians into producers, these merchants are jittery of their future due to these fellow foreigners. It is to be remembered that the North Indian had already invested huge capital in this trade and they became equally competitive to the local merchants, thus, it is studied by the committee that major pent of the trade had already been in the hands of the rich north Indian business men. Hence, the local merchants understood the Nigerian as their challenging force. This economic factor led the local merchants to uproot the Nigerians from there. They compelled these foreigners to quit the area on December 2013. These foreigners are also seen back to the business by paying exhobirant rent for their shops. This business competition continued between the local traders and the Nigerians which lead to dissonance with Nierians. It is also found by the committee that there is Xenophobia like attitude among the townsfolk in Tirupur which results in hostility .
The fact finding team understood that Nigerians in Tirupur does not involve in any conflicting terms with local people and however are willing to maintain a cordial relationship with local police. On 19.8.2014 after police filed case against one Mr.Samason a Nigerian nation,alleged to have misbehaved with a woman, was arrested with the help of the 'Tirupur Nigerian community welfare and garment trade association' who facilitated the arrest by helping the police to fix his whereabouts.
The committee unravelled through the facts to find that the Print and visual Media are reportin baseless information about the Nigerians in this area. The message in the Daily Thanthi on 21.08.2014 and the documentary in the Raj T.V. Channel are such instances. The committee extends to shares its view to consider the matter in future. The Press should understand the impact and reliability of the News before publishing it. The Media's social responsibility plays a significant role in maintaining harmony in the society. The stereotyped and portrayal of Niegerians in negative light insinuates a preconceived notion on all Africans and will have far fetching repercussion on the African migrants.
The committee also observed that the some Nigerians were treated disrespected manner without any reason by the local resident. Mr.Kellichi, a Nigerian in Tirupur also shared his experience in this regard.
The team also interacted with police official who opined that no law and order issue aroused in city by Nigerians.
The persecution of Africans has become a common phenomenon in India. These people are facing the racial discrimination in states like Goa, Delhi and Chandigar. Yanic Nipadagamya, a Burudi student of Jalander Lovely Professional University of Punjab was brutally beat by his own mates and he succumbed to injuries in the year 2012 and the same was reported to the chief Minister of Punjab State by the parent of the victim. The Police did not take any action on this case on account of the influential family background of the students. This dreadful event made the other students from African countries such as Burundi, Nigeria, Zambia, Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania horror stricken in the state of Punjab. The African Students studying in the deemed Universities in places like Jalendur and Bakwara of Punjab also feel that they are discriminated even though they pay the fees two or three times more than the native students.
Another event (October, 2013) Telecast in the Media is the murder of the Nigerian in Banaji at Goa. When the Africans in road rocko, Goa's Art and Culture Minister Dayanand Mandrekar called Nigerians a "cancer" and said their actions were detrimental to the tourism industry; though he retracted the statement and apologised. After the riots, Goa's Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar ordered police to find and expel Nigerians living illegally in Goa and Goan MLA Shantaram Naik said: "Nigerians misuse education schemes, violate the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), indulge in the drug trade and yet try to boss over Goans, which no civilised society would tolerate." Some signs read "Say No to Nigerians" and others were said to have resolved not to rent out apartments to Nigerians. The Media also expressed the news about the denial of renting houses and hiring two wheeler to these foreign citizens.
Yet another incident is that there were three Nigerian youths severely assaulted by a mob of Delhi at Rajiv Chowk Metro Railway station on September 2014. Events of such kind have made the Nigerian to think that they are ill-treated and discriminated in India.
On 8.3.2014 when Nigerian High commissioner Mr. Ndubuisi Vitus Amaku visit to Thirupur to interact Niegerian people to understand problem facing them,then he asked their citizens to respect tamil culture and live harmony with local people. He appealed the Indian to treat his citizens in a kind manner. In the wake of Niegerian discriminate incidents in india ,their Administrative Mr.Attache Jacob Nwadibia an officer in the Nigerian embassy has warned that if this kind of situation remains unchanged in India, it would result bad effect to the Indian residing in his country. It is realized that this statement would wise the question of international diplomacy.
Recommendations of the committee
1. The central and state governments to take measures to the racial discrimination in terms of colour and physique and to prepare action plans practices for social solidarity following the guidelines of U.N.O. i.e. Action Plan of Vienna Declaration of 1993 and world Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance of 2001.
2.Article 21 of Our Constitution has been guaranteed personal liberties and rights to the foreign citizens too. Hence the governments and society to ensure to protect dignity of Nigerians in India.
3.Action Plans are to be formulated for the Justifiable and wealthy business atmosphere between the Nigerian folk and local folk. A working committees are to be set up with the joint action of both groups and officers to execute harmony and plans.
4.The Government must discourage the restrictions of the local residents refuting rental houses and shop building for the Nigeriens business men who are pursuing the free and fair business.
5.The Government must involve in the matters of rental building for the Africans especially the Nigerians. It should to control the multiplying nature of rent since it is considered contrast to the fair rental policy of the government.
6.Organizations are to be created for the foreigners to keep touch continuously with the state so that their grievances would be redressed. It would restrict the illegal activities and the foreigners would act according to the Indian Law.
7.Moreover, these foreigners are to be provided with the right to have relations with the embassies and to know the guidelines of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963. So as to make them understand the legal measure for and against them. The Police Department and the officers are also to be aware of these guidelines
8.We implore the localities to accept people who come from different cultural background by not asserting the right over their culture.
9.India have been hosts to large scale migration prudently opted for multiculturalism.
10.Respecting one's culture in a multi cultural society paves way for harmonious existence of human values.
These are the recommendation of the Committee especially to the affected Nigerians in the entire country in General and Tamilnadu in particular.
S.Balamurugan,General secretary PUCL Tamilnadu&Pondy