Attack on Nigerian nothing to do with racism: Hyderabad police

Hyderabad : Police in Hyderabad on Friday said the attack on a Nigerian student had nothing to do with racism and the fight was over vehicle parking, even as two more locals were arrested.

The Nigerian student, Ghazeem, 23, sustained injuries on his head after being attacked with a rod during an altercation over parking with his neighbours in Hyderabad’s Banjara Hills area on Wednesday night. Ghazeem was discharged from hospital the same night and is stable.

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Even as the issue got national attention, the Banjara Hills police maintained that the incident had nothing to do with racism.

The accused has been arrested under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 324 read with 32 (beating with sticks). Another two locals were also booked on Friday, as they had supported the accused instead of preventing him from beating the student.

In another development, the Nigerians’ Welfare Association in Hyderabad has called for an end to the controversy terming it a storm in a tea cup. It has urged Ghazeem, a third year student at the city’s famous Nizam College, to withdraw his complaint as the accused had tendered “sincere apologies”.

“We have convinced him to withdraw the complaint for two reasons. One, the issue was about parking, and two, he had to live in the same area with the cooperation of the neighbours,” said a spokesperson of the association.

Ghazeem owns a Honda Accord. He stays in a residential complex at Singadabasti on Road No. 10 of Banjara Hills. His building owner, Mohammed Gafoor, stays in another house a little distance away.

On Wednesday evening, Ghazeem parked his car in front of Gafoor’s house. Gafoor had asked him to remove the car, but Ghazeem allegedly refused and challenged the neighbour that he cannot do anything. An angry Gafoor went inside and came out with a rod with which he hit Ghazeem on his head.

Hyderabad West Zone Deputy Commissioner A.B. Venkateswara Rao ruled out racism in the incident.

Rao told IANS: “Gafoor was angry about parking in front of his house and he chose to attack the person who refused to remove his car on demand. He (Gafoor) would have done the same even if it was a local.”

According to police, Ghazeem himself went to the hospital for treatment before driving to Banjara Hills police station to lodge a complaint.

The Banjara Hills police did not register a complaint by Gafoor that Ghazeem had caused him inconvenience by parking his car in front of his house.

“Such minor issues happen. But one should not use criminal force,” the DCP said when asked about Gafoor’s complaint being ignored.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has sought a report from the state government about the incident.

“On reports of a Nigerian student injured in Hyderabad: EAM @SushmaSwaraj has urgently sought report from State Govt, is monitoring the case,” ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.