Attacks On Africans Criminal, Not Racist, Says Sushma Swaraj

01/06/2016 8:46 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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MOSCOW, RUSSIA. APRIL 18, 2016. India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks during bilateral talks with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov (not in picture) as part of the 14th Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting of foreign ministers. Alexander Shcherbak/TASS (Photo by Alexander Shcherbak\TASS via Getty Images)

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has dismissed the attacks on members on African nations as "spontaneous" assaults perpetrated by "anti-social and criminal elements" and said they were not racial in nature. She issued a statement after meeting a delegation of African diplomats in Delhi on Tuesday.

"These were not premeditated acts against a particular community, rather these were spontaneous attacks perpetrated by anti-social and criminal elements,” Swaraj said.

ALSO READ: Yes, Racism Is Ugly, But Its Denial Does Not Make It Prettier

Swaraj also said that as a mother she can understand the pain of losing a son on foreign soil.

"It would be a traumatic experience," she said.

"The recent incidents relating to members of the African community are not only very unfortunate, but also very painful," Swaraj, who met the African delegation at the external affairs ministry at Jawahar Bhawan, said. She also said the murder of Congolese national Masunda Kitada Olivier in Delhi's Vasant Kunj area wads also not racial in nature.

ALSO READ: Congolese Man Killed, Spate Of Allegedly Racial Attacks, But VK Singh Says 'Minor Scuffle' Blown Up By Media

"I assure our African friends that institutional mechanisms would be put in place to ensure that such incidents do not recur in future. India will continue to remain a country where they will always feel welcome," Swaraj said.

“India is the land of Gandhi and Buddha. We have fought consistently against racial discrimination. Gandhi himself championed the cause of fighting against this evil. We can never have a racist mindset… it is incumbent upon us to prevent such attacks and we are determined to do so,” the Indian Express quoted her as saying.

India is the land of Gandhi and Buddha. We have fought consistently against racial discrimination. Gandhi himself championed the cause of fighting against this evil. We can never have a racist mindset. It is incumbent upon us to prevent such attacks and we are determined to do so

On May 20, Oliver, a 23-year-old post-graduate African student in Delhi was beaten to death by a group of men allegedly over a brawl over an autorickshaw ride. The men chased him around the busy Vasant Kunj area and attacked him with stones. Oliver died of his injuries at AIIMS. As India rushed to control the damage with a foreign ministry press statement condemning the attack, news of several more sporadic incidents poured in.

Some African nationals in south Delhi's Mehrauli area were attacked. At least six persons were injured. Meanwhile, a brother-sister duo from Cameroon were attacked around the same time in the area.

This is not the first time that India has dismissed complaints of racism as criminal acts. After a Tanzanian girl was allegedly stripped in Bengaluru, MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup said it was an “isolated incident”. Karnataka home minister G. Parameshwara too said it was a matter of road rage.

Members from the community in the national capital have regularly complained of racist slurs against them.

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