Tanzanian envoy tones down racism charge

Tanzanian envoy tones down racism charge
Tanzanian High Commissioner John W H Kijazi on Friday toned down his earlier suggestion that a woman from his country was targeted by a mob on January 31, 2016, “because she was black”.

After an hour-long meeting here with Home Minister G Parameshwara, State police chief Om Prakash and Bengaluru Police Commissioner N S Megharikh along with officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, he said, “I don’t want to dwell too much into racism. You people (media) take too much interest in that. We are not here to discuss the issue of racism.” Speaking to reporters earlier, Kijazi had said that the attack on the Tanzanian woman and four men, all from different African countries, was “racist”.

After taking note of the accident that claimed the life of a woman and the subsequent investigation, the High Commissioner said that he was satisfied with the police action.

“The notion of racism has come out due to a friction between local residents and African people. Each of us has our own translation of racism and that is the reason I don’t want to dwell into the point of racism. We believe that the local community can live in harmony (with African community). We must look at the future and build confidence on both sides,” he said.

On a question about repeated incidents of friction between the African people and the local residents, the High Commissioner passed a message to his fellow countrymen. “The friction shouldn’t be escalated beyond a point. I think the African students also need to follow the rule of the land and respect the leadership of the state and local community. We need to work together to institute a system where local residents and students can interact more often,” he said.

Joint Secretary (States), Ministry of External Affairs, Partha Satpathy, said that certain short- and long-term plans were discussed at the meeting with Parameshwara. “The attack on African nationals was an isolated incident and the consequence of a series of incidents. There is no conflict between the State and the Centre. Our objective is to ensure the safety of African nationals. We want to give a message that African nationals are welcome in this country,” he said.

Parameshwara said that the Bengaluru police had been asked to submit a report on the incident within 48 hours. “The High Commission delegates are convinced with our swift response to the situation. We have already arrested nine people involved in the mob attack on the students. We have also expressed our sympathy for the family which lost an earning member in the accident. In an effort to have a long-term plan, we are considering forming committees involving both local residents and African students. The students involved in the January 31 incident have complained about the loss of their passports and other documents. The High Commission has assured them of all the help,” he said.
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