By Biodun Busari
About 60 Nigerian students pursuing academics in an Indian private university GD Goenka University have fled their campus after they were allegedly beaten and abused on the football field and in their hostel.
According to the Times of India, the Nigerian students said they feared for their lives and were staying in various places of Delhi temporarily as they sought the intervention of the Nigerian embassy intervention
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Reports revealed they opted for the “temporary” decision to leave following a protest by a group of Indian students against Nigerians for offering prayers on the football ground nearly a month ago.
The protesting students, who shouted “Jai Shri Ram” slogans, had lodged a complaint with the registrar, asking the authorities to ensure the Nigerians offered rituals or prayers known as ‘namaz’ in India only in their hostel rooms. The matter was resolved amicably, police and the university had said then.
However, on Sunday both the police and the university management said the football field had nothing to do with the protests over ‘namaz’ a month ago.
According to a Nigerian student, Khaleel, the trouble erupted on Friday, when the university decided to have both Indian and Nigerian students in one team.
“Our captain spoke with the sports officer and laid down his objections against a ‘mixed team’. The officer decided to call off the match. Despite that, a few Indian students entered the field and before anyone could realise a thing, someone hit our captain on the head with an iron rod. Outsiders, who had come on bikes, also joined them and there was a clash. However, the matter was resolved that day itself,” Khaleel said.
Khaleel alleged that a group of Indian students attacked them in the hostel the next day (Saturday).
“They hurled abuses and threatened us with dire consequences. We are 63 Nigerians here in total. We have left the campus for the time being and are staying in Delhi,” he added.
Indian students, on the other hand, alleged they were attacked by a group of Nigerians. Sultan Khan, a pharmacy student, alleged that he was walking on the campus on Saturday when 4 to 5 Nigerians used swearwords that were aimed at him.
“They kept raining blows on me. My friends came to my rescue, but they were thrashed with sticks and rods too,” said Sultan, who lodged a police complaint.
Both sides have lodged complaints against each other at Sohna City police station, leading to cross-FIRs. The cases have been registered under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 34 (common intention) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.
“There was no major incident. The two groups had an argument during a football match, which escalated into a fight. We have received complaints from both sides and registered cross-FIRs. We are scanning CCTV footage and will take action accordingly,” said Upasana, the ACP (south).
The university management insisted that no student had left the campus. They, however, said that 10 students had been suspended for their alleged involvement in the ruckus during the Friday match.
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