New Delhi: For nearly five minutes, three African students are seen on camera being beaten relentlessly by a mob at a metro station in Delhi. They are first inside and then on top of a glass booth that's meant to be manned by a policeman.
As sticks rail down on the students, a sea of cellphones films the assault on Sunday evening in the heart of the capital. Nobody helps. A few policemen who tried to intervene soon walked away, allowing the attack to continue. One of the students, wearing a yellow shirt, tried to fight back.
Some who claim to be witnesses say the Africans had harassed a woman on the train and angered the crowd. But the police says its investigation has so far not confirmed this allegation; nor has a police complaint been filed about this.
"They abused and beat up a woman, that's why the crowds got angry...they also abused others," said a man who was present at the station but did not want to be identified.
"I think we are too soft on foreigners, if they behaved badly they deserved it," said a young man today.
At one point, cheers of "Bharat mata ki jai" go up as the blows are rendered.
The attack ended finally when CISF personnel, which stand guard at stations, dispersed the crowd. The students were then taken to hospital by the police; one received stitches on his hand.
Three days after the video was posted online, the police says it has identified two - three men among the assaulters. But nobody has been arrested so far. A case has been registered against unknown people for rioting.
Many on Twitter have condemned the assault as a brutal demonstration of Delhi's racism; others say that no matter what the men did, the mob retaliation is unjustifiable.
Not so, according to Somnath Bharti, former minister from the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, who controversially led a midnight raid in a South Delhi neighbourhood in an attempt to combat what he described as prostitution and drug trafficking by African women living there.
Mr Bharti tweeted:
entire Delhi is suffering 4m certain foreign nationals indulged in criminalities n illegalities but BJP n Cong r just playing politics...2/2- Adv. Somnath Bharti (@attorneybharti) September 29, 2014