Mapusa, Goa: The murder of a Nigerian last week is threatening not only to snowball into a diplomatic row, but is also developing into a worrying situation in the tiny tourist state where angry posters have sprung up as locals single out Nigerians and say they will not rent homes to them.
There has been growing anger among the people since about 200 Nigerians blocked a major national highway and clashed with the police and locals as they protested after their countryman was found dead with stab wounds in Mapusa town near Panaji.
“We have appealed to people not to rent homes or bikes to Nigerians,” said a lodge owner in Mapusa today.
In Parra village in north Goa, the panchayat decided that no “foreigners” will be given homes on rent.
The fine print, admit villagers, is most “foreigners” are Nigerians and need to be banned.
Incendiary posters with legends such as “We want peace in Goa. Say no to Nigerian. Say no to drugs” have been put up but Michael Lobo, an MLA from the ruling party, denies that these have racist overtones.
In controversial remarks, the lawmaker said, “98% Nigerians, African nationals in Goa are involved in drugs… they come to Goa on false pretext of tourism, studies.”
His party colleague and a minister in the state government, Dayanand Mandrekar, in fact, said that “Nigerians are like a ‘cancer’.
This morning, one of the alleged murderer of the Nigerian was arrested. He is reportedly linked with a gang that traffics drugs.
Amid reports that many of the Nigerians in Goa are leaving town, the ambassador of that country in India today said, “The Nigerian people as a whole feel insulted and offended… I need evidence from you and from others that you are also concerned about the safety of Nigerians.” (Read)
Ndubuisi Vitus Amaku was referring to developments over the last few days that have included a drive by the Goa government to identify and deport Nigerians who allegedly do not have valid visas.
Nigeria has also formally written to the Indian government expressing concern over the security of its citizens.
“The MEA got in touch with Goa’s chief secretary who assured us of a report in 48 hours. Our acting High Commissioner in Abuja went to the Nigerian foreign office and explained the situation as we see it,” Syed Akbaruddin, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier told reporters that he had asked the police department to comb the entire state and locate Nigerians and other foreign nationals who do not have valid visas.