Wary that some Nigerian nationals are living illegally, the police have begun cracking down on Nigerians staying in various parts of the city. Cops are screening them for their visas and other valid documents, after it came to light that several Nigerians involved in the drug trade in Goa have fled the state and taken refuge in the city.
The police have also employed the services of a dog that used to earlier be with the anti-narcotics cell, to look for traces of drugs on their body. Similarly, the anti-narcotics cell (ANC) and the Special Branch is also on the lookout for Nigerian nationals who have arrived from the neighbouring state.
Tensions have been rising in Goa after a Nigerian man was stabbed to death last week in an alleged turf war over control of the drug trade in North Goa. Soon after the killing, nearly 200 Nigerians blocked the National Highway-17 for four hours to protest against the murder. Goa police also arrested several of these protesters. After the incident, authorities there began to track down Nigerians and other foreign nationals living illegally in the state, and began referring them for deportation. To escape the crackdown, several of them have reportedly taken shelter in the city.
Fearing they may spread their tentacles in the city and also to avoid a repeat of the Goa protest, Mumbai police want to limit their control here. Police are aware that most of them stay in the city illegally after their visas expire, and deporting them is a long drawn affair, involving a lot of expenditure. Moreover, they pelt stones at cops when they arrive to apprehend them in their strongholds of Dongri, Mira Road and Kashmira. “The Nigerian nationals created a law and order problem in Goa and they can create similar problems in the city.
Arresting them is difficult, as they pelt stones on police officers and at times, have even thrown excreta on cops to avoid arrest. But, their increasing population in the city is a cause for concern, as most of them are into illegal activities,” said a police officer from the Mumbai Crime Branch. “We have started a drive in Pydhonie wherein we are verifying all foreigners, mostly Nigerian nationals, by checking their visa, passport and other valid documents,” said Dinesh Ahire, senior police inspector of Pydhonie police station.
“We check their travel documents, verify their mobile number, and also check the name on which the number is registered. If anything is found missing, we take action against them. Their mobile phones are mostly taken on somebody else’s name,” said Nisar Tamboli, deputy commissioner of police, Zone II. Police said till now, three Nigerian nationals had been already deported back to their country. “Since January, we have already arrested 32 Nigerian, Tanzanian and Kenyan nationals. But, their deportation process is still ongoing,” said Kishore Jadhav, deputy commissioner of police, anti-narcotics cell, Mumbai Crime Branch.
“We keep carrying out combing operations in areas that have sizeable Nigerian nationals to keep a tab on them,” added Jadhav. “Deporting a Nigerian national to his country is a long process and the costs involved have to be borne by the police, as funds towards the deportation costs are received only 10 years later from the state. So most police officers don’t want to get drawn into this process and don’t like arresting them,” said a source from Pydhonie police station.