A day after a gruesome video surfaced of Nigerian students being beaten up in Greater Noida by mobs, the Uttar Pradesh police staged a flag march in the area, and booked 1000 people for attempt to murder while India hastily stepped in to contain the damage.
The mob that attacked the students with belts, trash cans, and sharp objects allegedly also shop-lifted from a mall where two of the students were shopping.
Atul Saxena, store manager at Levi's outlet in Ansal Plaza where one of the attacks occurred, told IANS two Nigerians shopping in the mall rushed into the store, closed the door and pleaded with him to save them from the mob.
"After them, some 100 or 150 people forced open the door and barged in. They beat one of the Nigerians and dragged him out. The other had hid himself in a trial room. He too was dragged out and beaten up," Saxena told IANS. "Some among the mob ransacked the shop and lifted goods too."
"After them, some 100 or 150 people forced open the door and barged in. They beat one of the Nigerians and dragged him out. The other had hid himself in a trial room. He too was dragged out and beaten up."
The External Affairs Ministry assured of an impartial probe and said India was committed to the safety of foreigners in the country. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she had spoken to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Aditya Nath Yogi, and he had assured her of a "fair and impartial investigation into this unfortunate incident".
"You need to act fast as living in Noida is becoming a life-threatening issue for us," Sadiq Bello, a student, tweeted to Swaraj.
But fear still gripped the African community in the area.
The African Association of Students of India (AASI) has asked students in Greater Noida to stay away from colleges till they are provided with adequate security, according to the Hindustan Times.
"We are hopeful the situation will improve. Yet, it is too early to advice students to resume their normal life. They are terrified," said 'Chemist' Goodwill, a Nigerian representative of AASI, told the paper.
According to police in Greater Noida, late on Monday night four Nigerian students were attacked by crowds near the Pari Chowk while two more were beaten by a mob inside a shopping mall.
The attacks took place after protests over the death of Manish Khatri, a Class 12 student in Greater Noida's NSG Society, Superintendent of Police Sujata Singh told IANS. Khatri is said to have died of cardiac arrest due to suspected drug overdose on Saturday.
Five suspects were arrested and over 1,000 unknown people have been booked, police officer Avinish Dixit in Greater Noida told IANS. Dixit said police had received a complaint from an association of Nigerian residents in Greater Noida.
MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay termed the incident "deplorable".
Baglay said Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar spoke to Nigeria's Acting High Commissioner and assured him of steps being taken for the safety and security of Nigerian nationals.
"The government is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all foreigners in India. People from Africa, including students and youths, remain our valued partners," Baglay added.
In Gautambudh Nagar, District Magistrate N.P. Singh held a "peace meeting" with some Nigerians, police and civil officials, local resident welfare associations, students and representatives of colleges and universities of the area.
Singh, according to a statement, assured that the administration was committed to the safety of foreign students and said that the incidents had "blemished the image of India where thousands of foreign students come to study".
"They are our guests and we should respect them. It part of our culture.
STATEMENT BY THE ASSOCIATION OF AFRICAN STUDENTS IN INDIA. pic.twitter.com/TfrI04niG3— Lawai BemBem (@liklasa) March 28, 2017
The two assaulted Nigerians -- Endurance Amarawa, 21, and Precious Amalcima, 24 -- were taken to a hospital with facial injuries and minor fractures but doctors have ruled them out of danger.
"We were shopping in Ansal Plaza on Monday evening when suddenly a mob attacked us viciously. We tried to enter a showroom to save ourselves," Precious Amalcima, who is doing political science from Noida International University (NIU), told reporters at the hospital. Endurance is a first year BA-LLB student at the university. (With inputs from agencies)