India racism Africans
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) poses with the head of states of African countries during the inaugural session of the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India Adnan Abidi/Reuters

A 23-year-old Nigerian student was thrashed with an iron rod in what is thought to be a suspected racist attack. The incident in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad has taken place within days of the African diplomatic community registering a protest over increasing cases of racism targeting black people in the country.

The Hyderabad assault followed a dispute between Damilola Kazeem and his neighbour over a parking space in the area. The neighbour has been detained by the police following the incident. It is still unclear if it was a racially-motivated attack as there are conflicting local reports.

India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has urged local authorities to look into the matter as it comes close on the heels of African diplomats cancelling African Day celebrations. However, the envoys, who urged the Indian government to act against the growing "racism and Afro-phobia", agreed to take part in an event organised by the Indian side.

The ministry's spokesperson tweeted: "Reports of a Nigerian student injured in Hyderabad: EAM [External Affairs Ministry] @SushmaSwaraj has urgently sought report from state govt, is monitoring the case."

A photo posted by the Nigerians Association - TS to Facebook shows Kazeem with blood oozing out of his head.

Emmanuel Omurunga, chairman of the African Students Association in the state of Telangana, said: "The situation in India is no longer safe for us. Even the police are not willing to help us when we approach them," according to The Hindu.

In a similar attack recently, a Congolese national, Masonda Ketada Oliver, was beaten to death by a local mob after an argument. Three men chased the man hurling rocks. The incident yet again highlighted the rise in such assaults in the country.

India has witnessed several attacks against black people in the recent past in which racism was seen the motive. In January 2016, a mob attacked and molested a Tanzanian girl while she was travelling with her friends in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru.