External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has written to seven states asking them to take quick measures on the issue of attacks on African nationals both in terms of police action and prosecution, underlining that such individual acts reflect on the nation.
Swaraj on Tuesday had written a letter to the chief ministers of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Goa, where there is large presence of African students, asking them to take quick action in such cases, Secretary, Economic Relations, Amar Sinha said, adding the attacks have been condemned at the highest level.
“Our EAM (Swaraj) is very proactively engaging with all the ambassadors. She has met students also…Only yesterday she has written to several chief ministers…to sensitise them that these are individual acts but they reflect on the nation.
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“There is a need to take quick measures in terms of police action and follow up in terms of prosecution when such incidents take place,” he said.
The Secretary was asked whether the attacks will cast a shadow over the upcoming visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to three African countries of Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia from June 12.
“…We have engaged with the African students here very very closely. We are also setting up a monitoring mechanism so that after the first two days of the incident, we don’t lose the sight of it. African ambassdors are satisfied with the action taken by the Indian government…,” he said.
We don’t feel this will cast a shadow over the relations between India and the African countries, Sinha said.
“Our relationship is built on a much solid foundation. These governments and their authorities understand that this is not driven by state policies. State policy is just the opposite.
“So they will not hold the President or highest office bearers of the country responsible for the acts that are very criminal in nature,” he said.
Terming the attacks as unfortunate, Sinha said such incidents also arise from cultural differences.
“It is unfortunate that at times, African students or visitors get targetted in India…which perhaps also arises from some cultural differences that is what we are trying to explain and missions are also trying to reach out to their communities here to sensitise them about general behaviour and what is expected to be done,” he said.
Sinha also said a lot of “soft measures” are being taken to popularise African traditional activities with the mainstream society in India.
Several incidents of violence against African nationals were recently reported from various states following which the diplomats of the African countries concerned conveyed their concerns to the Indian authorities.
Condemning the attacks, the President had said: “We shall have to create appropriate awareness in the minds of our youngsters who may not know the history, age old relations (between India and Africa)…”
“We cannot allow these (relations with Africa) to be jeopardised in anyway and create a bad precedent which is not the ethos, which is not part of the core values of our civilisation,” he had said.