India assures Nigeria of action as Indian envoy summoned over attacks

Indo Asian News Service

Abuja/New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) India moved swiftly to assure Nigeria of action over attacks on four Nigerian students as Abuja summoned the Indian envoy to express displeasure over the incident and reminded that it was not the first such occurrence.

In Abuja, Sola Enikanolaiye, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, summoned Indian High Commissioner Nagabushana Reddy on Wednesday to voice displeasure over the attack.

He said the Indian High Commissioner "informed of concrete steps taken" by the Indian government to address the incident and also promised justice.

The Indian High Commissioner also expressed his regret over the "deplorable attacks" and promised that they would do all to prevent reoccurrence, according to the Nigerian Foreign Office.

Not mincing his words, Enikanolaiye told Reddy: "We think this should not have happened considering the excellent relationship between two of us - the two countries have things in common and have been great friends."

He also said that the concern of the ministry is that such a matter should not be allowed to cloud the relationship between the two countries.

"This is not the first time this would happen; Nigerians have suffered similar attack in the past; so, what we will like to see on this occasion is that the perpetrator should be arrested.

"And we want to see diligent prosecution so that it would serve as a deterrent to those who think they can take laws into their hands and harass students who are going about their studies," the top Nigerian official said.

The development comes as the 55-nation African Union (AU) on Thursday said it was extremely appalled by the attacks.

The pan-African bloc deplored the violence unleashed during the attack and welcomed the assurances of the Indian government to conduct a "fair and impartial" probe and urged the authorities to expedite the investigations.

The attack on Nigerian students took place on Monday night in Greater Noida, some 40 km from the Indian capital, following protests over the death of a Class 12 student of a residential colony there due to drug overdose. Some people who were holding a candle-light vigil for the student attacked the Nigerians suspecting them of drug running.

Five people were arrested for the attacks.

In New Delhi, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday assured of an impartial probe and promised action against the guilty. Sushma Swaraj said she has spoken to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath Yogi, in whose state the incident occurred.

India's Ministry of External Affairs reiterated its condemnation of the attacks on Nigerians and said the government is in touch with the Nigerian High Commission in New Delhi in this connection.

"It is clear that such criminal acts are completely unacceptable and have been condemned," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in his weekly media briefing.

"The students who were hurt during the incident have been treated in a local hospital and have already been released."

The spokesperson said incidents like this "represent the action of uninformed and misguide few".

"They do not detract from the deep belief of the government and the people of India of Vasudeva Kutumbakam," he stated.

"We will continue to welcome African people including students and youth as valuable partners," Baglay said, adding that India's engagement with Africa would continue to grow.

"Law enforcement authorities of the district have made arrests and a large number of people are under watch. The investigation is on and the law of the land will prevail," he stated.

The MEA spokesperson also said that Kenyan authorities believe that a woman from their country who claimed to have been assaulted in Greater Noida on Wednesday may not actually have been.

He said during a meeting with Kenyan authorities it was "conveyed to us that the understanding of Kenyan authorities is that the reported incident of attack on the Kenyan woman in question does not correspond to reality".

Amnesty International in Nigeria, reacting to the attacks, said in a Twitter post "Why would people face such terror because of the colour of their skin?... Living in India must not become a life-threatening issue for black people".