India Diaspora
Indian killed in Uganda was at wrong place at wrong time
May 4, 2007 - 3:20:51 PM

New Delhi, May 4 - Devang Rawal, the young Indian who was stoned to death April 12 by a mob in Uganda, was at the wrong place at the wrong time, according to the owner of the company for which he worked.

'Devang just happened to be at the wrong place and the mob attacked him,' Mukesh Takka, the Indian origin owner of Translink - Ltd., a company importing products of Johnson & Johnson and Nestle in Uganda, told IANS here.

Rawal, who hailed from Ahmedabad and worked as a sales representative for Translink, was stoned to death in Kampala by a mob that was protesting the move by the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited -, part of the Indian-owned Mehta group, to expand its sugar estates by cutting the Mabira rain forest - one of Uganda's last remaining patches of natural forest. It has been a nature reserve since 1932.

Giving the details of the incident, Takka said that on that fateful day, Rawal, along with two of his colleagues, both Indians, were in a shop in the vicinity where the protest march was taking place.

'When I came to know of the procession in that area I managed to establish contact with all three of them and told them to return immediately to the office,' he said.

'When only two of them reached the office, I asked them 'Where is Devang?' They said that he had left the shop on his bike five minutes prior to them.

'I had asked the three of them to take the Industrial Area route to avoid the procession. While the other two took that route, Devang apparently took the wrong turn and came upon the procession,' Takka, who is currently in India as part of an official Ugandan delegation that is here to convey its condolences to Rawal's family, said.

Quoting from witnesses to the incident, he said that an Asian family - Indians are mostly referred to as Asians in Uganda - in a car had brushed against some protestors.

'The enraged protestors tried to attack the car but the driver managed to get out from within the crowd and flee the scene. The mob then spotted Rawal and attacked him,' Takka said.

The incident had left the Indian community in Uganda shaken. The country's government then assured all safety to the Indians there and announced a compensation of 18 million Ugandan shillings to the victim's family.

Following Idi Amin's despotic rule in the seventies, during which he deported 75,000 Asians from Uganda, only around 15 Indian families had stayed back in that east African country.

Today, of the around 17,000 Indians there, only 2,500 of them are Ugandans of Indian origin. The rest are all non-resident Indians - who had gone there for work or for business.


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