Attack on Nigerians not racial, says Sushma

African diplomats had called for UNHRC investigation

Attack on Nigerians not racial, says Sushma

The government on Wednesday told Parliament that the recent assault on four Nigerian students in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh was not racial in nature as it was not pre-planned.

The Ministry of External Affairs also summoned Alem Tsehaye Woldemariam, Eritrea’s Ambassador to India, to its headquarters. He had a meeting with Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh, who conveyed to him that India was shocked by the unfortunate statement he recently issued in his capacity as Dean of the Group of African Heads of Missions in New Delhi.

Singh told Woldemariam that the statement issued by him was contrary to the facts, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Lok Sabha.

She said the four Nigerian students had been beaten up by an angry mob when local residents took out a candle-light march to protest the death of a youth, apparently due to narcotic abuse. She said racial crimes are planned in advance, which had not been the case in the incident of assault on the Nigerians.

She said the police had already launched an investigation and arrested six people in connection with the attack. She said it was not appropriate to categorise a crime as racial in nature before conclusion of the investigation.

The statement issued by Woldemariam on behalf of the African nations’ ambassadors and high commissioners to India referred to the repeated attacks on people of their countries in India as “xenophobic and racial in nature”. It also called for a probe by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) into attacks on people from African nations in India.

“It has been conveyed to him (Dean of the Group of African Heads of Missions) today that we do not have dearth of institutional mechanism (to address such issues). We have (National) Human Rights Commission, we have so many NGOs, a very active civil society, free press and an independent judiciary,” said Sushma.

She also dismissed criticism by the Group of African Heads of Missions that India did not respond adequately to the incidents in Greater Noida. The external affairs minister said that she had tweeted after requesting Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for a probe into the incident. Adityanath, too, had assured an independent investigation. It had also been conveyed that Sushma was monitoring the probe.

The external affairs minister made the statement during Zero Hour after Mallikarjun Kharge, Shashi Tharoor, Gourav Gogoi and K C Venugopal of the Congress submitted a notice in the House to raise it as a matter of public interest. Speaking on the issue, Venugopal drew attention to the statement issued by Dean of the Group of African Heads of Missions in New Delhi and termed it as a “diplomatic failure” of the government.

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