Probe on, can’t call attack on Nigerians racist, says India

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Probe on, can’t call attack on Nigerians racist, says India

New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) India on Wednesday said the attack on Nigerian nationals in Greater Noida could not be called racial till a probe is completed, and termed the statement by African envoys in the matter as “unfortunate and surprising”.

It also said the government is committed to ensuring the security and safety of foreign nationals in India.

“You can’t say our steps are inadequate. We are committed to ensuring security of all foreigners, including African nationals in India,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha, making a statement on the issue.

Sushma Swaraj also questioned the allegation by African envoys describing the attacks late last month as xenophobic.

“The attack cannot be called racist before the probe is completed. I said this in context of attacks in the US too.

“It is wrong to term the incident as a racial attack since this was done by an angry mob. Indians have also died in African nations, but New Delhi did not allege racial attacks,” she said.

The senior BJP leader also dubbed the statement by African envoys as “unfortunate”.

“African envoys’ statement on attacks on African students is unfortunate, painful and surprising,” Sushma said.

African Heads of Missions posted in New Delhi have strongly condemned the March 27 attack on Nigerian nationals and said such attacks were “xenophobic and racial in nature”.

They also kept open the possibility of taking the matter to international human rights bodies for an independent investigation if the Indian government failed to take legal action against the perpetrators.

The attack on four Nigerian students took place on March 27 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.

Sushma Swaraj said her junior colleague V.K. Singh spoke to the Dean of African Heads of Mission on the issue and termed their remarks as sad.

The Minister said: “If they say India is a xenophobic country and they want to go to the Human Rights Council, I have informed them India has all human rights institutions, very active civil societies, a free press and judiciary.”

“We have all the systems and you are talking about going to the Human Rights Council,” she added.

The Minister said six people have been arrested in the case and strict action will be taken against the culprits.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.