Print edition : April 28, 2017

INDIA’S dogged refusal to term the attacks on African students in Greater Noida as racist did not amuse African envoys. In an unprecedented move, the heads of missions of 43 African countries condemned the attacks as “xenophobic and racial in nature” and pointed out that India had not taken any “known, sufficient and visible” deterrent action. The Eritrean Ambassador, who is the Dean of African Heads of Missions, issued a strongly worded statement on behalf of all of them, which said:

“The Heads of African Missions accredited to India convened a special meeting to look into the recent attacks against African students in Greater Noida [on March 31]. They reviewed the previous incidents that have taken place in the past and concluded that no known, sufficient and visible deterring measures were taken by the Government of India.

“As regards the recent unfortunate incident in Greater Noida, the African Heads of Missions strongly condemn the incident and express their deep concern and also take note that these reprehensible events, both outstanding and unresolved cases against Africans, were not sufficiently condemned by the Indian authorities. The meeting unanimously agreed that those accumulated attacks against Africans are xenophobic and racial in nature.

“They equally expressed their expectations for strong condemnation from the highest political level (both nationally and locally) of the Government of India, as well as expediting legal actions against the perpetrators. They agreed to take further actions, including the 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 African Union Commission.”

The Ministry of External Affairs continued to be in denial and said: “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. Investigations on the death of Indian teenager and the subsequent incident by local authorities are ongoing. The government had condemned and described as unacceptable the incident of attack on a few Nigerian nationals in Greater Noida. The significance attached to addressing the matter is reflected in the detailed statement by the External Affairs Minister and the discussion in the Parliament.... As stated earlier, the government is committed to ensuring safety and security of all foreign nationals in India, including African nationals, who remain our valued partners.

“Strong Indian institutions are adequate to deal with aberrations that represent act of a few criminals.”

Divya Trivedi

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