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India Hits Back At African Envoys Who Called Attacks On Nigerian Students Xenophobic

The Centre termed it as "unfortunate".

03/04/2017 10:18 PM IST | Updated 04/04/2017 1:21 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NEW DELHI -- India said tonight it is "unfortunate" that a criminal act triggered following the death of a young Indian student under suspicious circumstances has been termed as "xenophobic and racial" by the African envoys.

Responding to sharp reaction by African envoys over the attacks on Africans, the External Affairs Ministry listed out various steps taken by the government, which had condemned the attacks as "unacceptable", and said investigations on the death of Indian teenager and the subsequent incident by local authorities are ongoing.

In a strongly-worded press release, the African envoys, who recently held a "special" meeting on the incidents, termed the attacks on Africans as "xenophobic and racial" in nature and hit out at the Indian government, saying it took no "known, sufficient and visible" deterrent action.

In a release, the External Affairs Ministry said, "We have seen the statement by the Eritrean Ambassador to India, who is also the Dean of the African Head of Missions, apparently issued on their behalf. 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."

Noting that the government had condemned and described as "unacceptable" the incident of attack on a few Nigerian nationals in Greater Noida, it said the significance attached to addressing the matter is reflected in the detailed statement by the External Affairs Minister (EAM) and the discussion in the Parliament.

"Following EAM's conversation immediately after the incident with the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, 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 Africans," it said.

The ministry has further sensitised local authorities towards ensuring safety and security of Africans in general and African students in particular, it said, adding that three Nigerian nationals treated in hospital for injuries have been discharged.

The government is committed to ensuring safety and security of all foreign nationals in India, including Africans, who remain our valued partners and strong Indian institutions are adequate to deal with aberrations that represent act of a few criminals, the ministry asserted.

It may be noted that a subsequent report of assault on a Kenyan national has been withdrawn and the government has been informed by Kenyan High Commission that the concerned Kenyan national, whose tourist visa has expired, is returning to Kenya, the release said.

Nevertheless, the Kenyan High Commission has expressed appreciation for prompt response by local police authorities on her complaint, it added.

The press release by African envoys dated 31 March said they agreed to call for an independent investigation by the Human Rights Council as well as other human rights bodies, and also to comprehensively report the matter to the Commission of the African Union.

Four Nigerian students were attacked by a group of Greater Noida residents who took out a candle light march on 26 March after a 17-year-old boy, Manish, died due to suspected drug overdose.

Meanwhile, official sources said, "It is understood that a very small number of African HOMs may have been consulted in the issuance of the press release by the African HOM Dean.

Some of the prominent African HoMs denied that they attended the reported meeting or were consulted."

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