e, Mumbai people are very tolerant to migrants; be it Bangladeshi or Africans. From fraud mail, fishing, drugs, flesh trading and terror, which is the hub right next door of Mumbai residents. They have localities and huge places allotted in their name. They have restaurants and trades in Mumbai. They are the representatives of fortune in faraway lands, but the fount of those beckoning fraud emails that promise a lottery win, all these scammers live in Mumbai’s very own backyard — Mira Road, Pila house, Nagpada and Byculla.
‘Nigerianwadi’ at a 20-minute walk from the Mira Road railway station, is the evidence, they say, the IP addresses of almost all the computers from where these fraud emails originated are traced. Mira Road provides the fraudsters with a perfect camouflage. A fast-growing suburb, it affords them the anonymity they desperately need and the inexpensive one-room rented flats that go for as little as Rs 3,000 a month. The word Nigerianwadi was coined by policemen who on several occasions were roughed up while trying to pick up a suspect in a scam or a drug case. Many of these Nigerians migrated to other areas, including to Nalasopara. But some of them stayed back. The two internet parlours near Nigerianwadi, as a result, are still doing reasonable business. Because the owners gets least Rs 100 from each of these guys compared to the paltry Rs 10 the others pay. They sit here from morning to night. These Nigerians not only are drug addicts but violent much of the time that is the reason some policemen openly admit that they were scared to detain Nigerian suspects from the locality. There were times when we lured them as recipients of Nigerian scam mails and arrested them when they came out of the area. They are physically strong and go to any length to resist cops.
This year, 40 policemen in three teams formed by the Anti-Narcotics Cell hunted drug peddlers. They took the help of local cabbies to catch nine Nigerian drug peddlers in Byculla and other areas. This is the first time the police have nabbed so many Nigerian drug peddlers at one go. Cocaine worth Rs 5 lakh and MD worth Rs 18,000 was recovered from them. After three years of chasing African drug peddlers, it was supposed to be a great victory for the police when they arrested nine of them this year few months back. But now, it looks like the criminals may be the real winners after all. The Africans have either destroyed or hidden their passports and refuse to disclose their country of origin, leaving the cops no way to know where to deport them. The African drug network has been notoriously difficult to tackle, and more often than not, the dealers manage to give cops the slip. But running from the police is not the only way the criminals have managed to hold on to the drug trade in Mumbai for so long. Following the example of illegal immigrants across the world, the African drug pushers tear up their passport as soon as they arrive in India to avoid deportation. The interrogation of the recently arrested nine dealers indicates that they too might have done something similar. The peddlers at a time refused to disclose their nationality, and despite searching their homes, mobile phones and other belongings, the cops hardly find any clues. The peddlers have even figured out that getting arrested can help them stay on longer in the country. Many of them try to get arrested on purpose, since they cannot be deported until the investigation and the court case ends. This could take several months or even years.
One such example is Kofi Jems Romalik, 30, who was among the nine arrested on the intervening night of July 27 and 28. He had already been arrested earlier for a 2012 narcotics case, but would never attend court proceedings. In 2017, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him. He has now spent six years in Mumbai since his last arrest. African peddlers tell the police that there is so much poverty in their countries that they keep getting arrested so they can stay in India. So far only two peddlers have been deported to Nigeria since 2017, this, even though the police arrested 45 African dealers in the same period (29 in 2017 and 16 in 2018). Apart from charges under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and the Maharashtra Police Act, the police have now also added offences under the Passport Act, for illegal entry and concealing their citizenship. These Nigerians are dangerous liability on our country’s economy, all those are arrested so far, refuse to eat anything but chicken and rice. As a result, the police are spending Rs 2,000 per day on meals for these accused.
Most of the Nigerians even prefer to stay in brothel, the sex workers find it safe keeping them around, and they are physically strong and can protect these women against any nonsense. Loosing at these men and their violent approach the customers try to be grounded. The cost of keeping them is just a space in the corner and two-time meals. These Nigerians pay better amount then the local customers, the sex workers in Mumbai play crucial role in sheltering these drug peddlers.
Nigerians in India form one of the largest African communities in the country. As of now, there are about 70,000 Nigerians living and working in India. These Nigerians have a negative public image in the Indian society as some Nigerians are involved in illegal activities in India such as drug trafficking, drug abuse, prostitution trafficking, fraud and forgery of travel documents, such as passports and visas, trafficking in stolen documents. There are also more than 500 known Nigerians in various jails across India. Nigeria itself treats its own people very poorly. They do not care for their people then, why should other people care for them?
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