diplomats raise concerns about their nationals after attacks
A GROUP of students from Africa in New Delhi called off a demonstration to protest against recent attacks against their community in the capital after the Indian government assured them of better security.
The students said on Tuesday (31) that they had a meeting with officials from India’s Ministry of External Affairs where they were assured of their security and safety
Police said last Sunday (29) they had arrested five Indians accused of assaulting Africans in New Delhi, after African diplomats urged the Indian government to ensure the safety of their nationals living in the country.
A Delhi deputy police commissioner Ishwar Singh said altercations and scuffles took place last Thursday (26) night after locals became of- fended by Africans playing loud music and drinking alcohol in the street.
Singh stressed that the three separate incidents were not racially motivated and were instead connected “entirely to local issues”.
“We still registered the cases and arrested five locals,” said Singh, deputy head of Delhi south region, adding that one of the Africans suffered only minor injuries during the heated exchanges.
A Congolese teacher was bludgeoned to death one week ago allegedly by three Indian men after an argument over hiring an auto-rickshaw taxi, in an upscale Delhi neighborhood.
In a rare statement after the attack, African ambassadors said their nationals were living in a “pervading climate of fear and insecurity” in Delhi. They warned they may recommend their governments not to send students to India until safety conditions improve, following a string of what they said were unpunished racial attacks.
Police arrested two of the three suspected of the killing.
India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, in a series of tweets last Sunday (29), promised swift action against those involved in last week’s incidents as well as a “sensitisation campaign” for “areas where African nationals reside”. Junior foreign minister VK Singh, who has been deputed to meet and reassure African students in Delhi, accused the media of overreacting to the latest “minor” incidents.
In a statement, the Association of African Students in India said: “There was a high-level meeting with the permanent secretary of Ministry of External Affairs on Monday (30). He listened to our grievances and has made commitments to ensure our safety in India. Leaders of 15 African countries were also present during the meeting.”
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar on Monday also met African students with security fears.
Thousands of people from Africa study and work in India, but several incidents have raised concerns of racist violence and discrimination.