In one of their strongest criticism of the attacks on Africans, the most recent being the brutal assault of four men in a Greater Noida mall a week ago, chiefs of missions of 43 African countries hit out at New Delhi Monday, saying it took no “known, sufficient and visible” deterrent action. Describing the attacks as “xenophobic and racial in nature”, the envoys indicated their disappointment over the lack of response from the Prime Minister and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. In a statement, the Office of the Dean of the African Group Head of Missions said the envoys expected strong condemnation of the attacks at the highest political level, both nationally and locally.
The envoys, it said, agreed to call for an independent investigation by the Human Rights Council and other human rights bodies, and to comprehensively report the matter to the Commission of the African Union. Responding to the statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said: “It is unfortunate that a criminal act triggered following the untimely death of a young Indian student under suspicious circumstances has been termed as xenophobic and racial. Investigations on the death of Indian teenager and the subsequent incident by local authorities are ongoing.”
“The Government had condemned and described as unacceptable the incident of attack on a few Nigerian nationals in Greater Noida. The significance attached to addressing the matter is reflected in the detailed statement by the External Affairs Minister (EAM) and the discussion in Parliament,” it said.
“Following EAM’s conversation immediately after the incident with the Chief Minister of the State of Uttar Pradesh, local authorities expeditiously arrested suspects. They registered an FIR and are investigating the matter comprehensively. Local authorities have also taken measures to strengthen safety and security of Nigerian nationals. Coordination meetings have been held by local police in Delhi as well as Greater NOIDA, with African nationals. Ministry of External Affairs has further sensitised local authorities towards ensuring safety and security of Africans in general and African students in particular,” the MEA said, adding that “strong Indian institutions are adequate to deal with aberrations that represent act of a few criminals”.
The statement by the Office of the Dean of the African Group Head of Missions said a meeting of the envoys was convened to look into the recent attacks against African students in Greater Noida. “The meeting unanimously agreed that those accumulated attacks against Africans are xenophobic and racial in nature,” it said.
The envoys reviewed incidents in the past and concluded that no “known, sufficient and visible” deterrent measures were taken by the Indian government, it said. Condemning the attacks, they expressed deep concern and noted that these “reprehensible events, both outstanding and unresolved cases against Africans, were not sufficiently condemned by the Indian authorities”.
On March 28, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was approached by an African student, Sadiq Bello, via Twitter. Bello asked for quick intervention from Swaraj and she responded by saying that the government was “seized of the matter” and was taking immediate action. Later, she tweeted that she had spoken to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath about the attack and he had assured a “fair and impartial investigation”.
Last year too, African students had been victims of violence at different locations across the country. The body of heads of the African missions had issued a statement in May 2016 too, calling for the boycott of Africa Day celebrations.
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