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How 50 Nigerians held the Goa Police to ransom
Saturday November 2, 2013 7:02 PM, Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, IANS

Nigerians are "seven feet" tall, are "huge and aggressive" and it needs anywhere between two to 10 Goa Police personnel to tackle each of them. That's why, says Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, the police could not reign in an irate mob of Nigerians that blocked a key highway, beat up policemen and vandalised a police van after one of their compatriots was found murdered.

"They are huge and aggressive. Some of them are seven feet tall. It would take at least 100 of our policemen to handle a crowd of 50 Nigerians," Parrikar told reporters, when he was asked why the police force did not make any effort for nearly an hour to clear National Highway-17 that was blocked Thursday by bare-torsoed, muscled Nigerians armed with hockey sticks, bamboos and knives.

The Nigerians were demanding that the autopsy on the deceased Obina Obiwesi be conducted in the presence of the Nigerian ambassador in India.

The murder, the Nigerian protestors claimed, had been committed by a gang called Chapora boys, a notorious underground drug mafia operating in north Goa, and the police had been unwilling to act against the alleged murderers, who were locals. They blocked the highway by dumping the corpse bang in the middle of the road after smashing open the police hearse and extracting the body from it.

The brazen manner in which Goa Police officers were cowered down in public by a group of 50 well-built Nigerians (the mob later swelled to nearly 200) and Parrikar's continued dogged defence of the state police has evoked an extremely strong reaction in the social media as well as among people across sections.

The mob not only threatened and warded off over 20 policemen, including Superintendent of Police (North) Priyanka Kashyap, but also told the latter off in a verbal duel.

The intimidation was such that Parrikar, himself claimed that he saw one "herculesque Nigerian" who he believed would need 10 Goa policemen to control.

"He was nearly seven feet. He would have needed at least 10 policemen to control," said Parrikar, who is also the state's home minister.

The chief minister also said that he had inherited a corrupt and ineffective police force that had been reduced to shambles by the previous Congress-led regime, whose home minister Ravi Naik and kin now face charges of being involved in the drug trade.

The incident has triggered an avalanche of reactions.

"The police department is scared of Nigerians. I am ashamed to say this," said Michael Lobo, a legislator of the ruling BJP.

Independent legislator Rohan Khaunte, whose constituency of Porvorim was host to the high-voltage drama, said that the public came to the rescue of the police instead of it being the other way around.

"The situation was mishandled. Action should be taken against the SP North. Locals in fact helped the police and not the other way around," he said.

The social media too is in a tizzy.

"An Israeli cartel in Siolim, Russian landlords in Morjim, Nigerian drug lords in Parra. Only guests missing are the Columbian war lords, Afghan heroin dealers and Italian mafia. Invite them as well to complete the mosaic," said Sudeep Dalvi on Facebook group Ami Niz Goenkar, giving a spin to the union tourism ministry's "Atithi Devo Bhava" (A guest is akin to god) motto.

Jack Sukhija, who runs a heritage hotel in Panaji, however, said he is disillusioned by the slew of racist comments and descriptors which were used by Facebookers to narrate the incident.

"Reading some of the racial filth that is going around on Facebook today, perhaps for the first time in my life I can understand why we Indians were more hated in South Africa than the whites," he wrote.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in)



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