Mabira Riots: Indian Community Reflects on Attacks

4161 Views Kampala, Uganda
Members of the Indian community in Uganda are taking stock of the damage to their homes and property following Thursday's racially-motivated riots in Kampala City. The Uganda Indian Association is issuing several public announcements calling on its members to stay away from the city center and to remain calm as the police bring the situation under control. By Thursday evening, areas usually populated by Indian communities in Old Kampala and Nakasero Market were deserted and businessmen from other Asian countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Malaysia closed their shops went home early afraid to be mistaken for Indians. It is not clear what exactly turned a peaceful demonstration against Government's the proposed giveaway of Mabira Forest to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda (SCOUL) quickly degenerated into fully-fledged race riots. Unconfirmed reports say there were agitators in the crowd of demonstrators who stirred up anger against the Mehta Group of Companies, which manages SCOUL. Nanjibhai Kalidas Mehta, the founder of the Mehta Group, migrated to Uganda from India in 1900. Over the decades, the Mehta family became one of the biggest local investors in East Africa. Mobs attacked people of Southeast Asian descent, hurling racist abuse at them and accusing them of joining the Mehta Group in stealing Uganda's natural resources and wealth. During the riots, Devang Reval, an Indian national working with Transglobe Uganda Limited, was ambushed by a mob near the Clock Tower. Using sticks, stones and broken bottles they bludgeoned him to death and set his motorcycle on fire. The mob also attacked several Indian owned shops along Luwum, Market and William Streets at the Swaminaryan and Hindu temples in downtown Kampala. Uganda Radio Network caught up with a group of Indians who had been evacuated to the safety of Central Police Station in Kampala from the Hindu Temple on Burton Street near Nakasero Market. Some of them were clearly distressed by the turn of affairs. //Cue in: iSomebody is attack #i Cue out: i# it is happen like that.i// A Ugandan woman, who only identified herself as Maama Najju, said a mob attacked her home in Nsambya Zone B near the Uganda Railways quarters because she is married to an Indian man. She said she was forced to call the police in to rescue her and her two young children from the rioters. //Cue in: iWe saw the gang #i Cue out: i# attack majority of Indian.i// Mehta Maren, the chairperson of the Uganda Indian Association