Terming the recent spate of attacks on African nationals in India “criminal acts and not racial,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in her first detailed statement on the issue said on Tuesday that it is “incumbent upon” India to prevent them.
“These were not premeditated acts against a particular community, rather these were spontaneous attacks perpetrated by anti-social and criminal elements,” Ms. Swaraj said in a 398-word statement, after meeting a delegation of African nationals and diplomats, who were led by Dean of the African Heads of Mission in India, Alem Sehaye Woldemariam, the Ambassador of Eritrea to India.
In the statement, Ms. Swaraj said she has asked Minister of State (External Affairs) Gen. V.K. Singh to hold meetings with the African community in all the major metropolitan cities.
The attacks on Africans took a diplomatic downturn following the May 20 attack on a Congolese national, Masunda Kitada Oliver who died in a brutal attack in South Delhi.
However, Ms. Swaraj said the attack was the work of goons. “All criminal acts should not be construed as racial attacks. As the CCTV footage of the incident in question showed, this was an act committed by goons who also thrashed the Indian bystanders who had attempted to intervene to save Mr. Oliver. The Delhi police immediately swung into action after the unfortunate incident. Two of the perpetrators of the crime have already been apprehended, while a search is on for the third person,” the Minister said.
The Association of African Students in India which had earlier called for a “March for Justice” on Tuesday postponed the rally in view of the high-level meetings and assurances given for the “safety and security” of African nationals.
Warning to govt.
“It is painful to take this decision. But we will hold the government of India accountable if these incidents happen again,” said a statement from the association.
The students were asked to withdraw the protest by African diplomats who assured them of continued support.