Recent attacks on African nationals were neither racial nor premeditated acts against a particular community but spontaneous criminal attacks by anti-social elements, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Rajya Sabha today.
To ensure safety of Africans and avoid repetition of such instances, the government is trying to accommodate in campus hostels the African students who are studying in India on scholarships since such attacks have taken place outside campuses, she added.
“The recent attacks on African nationals in Delhi and outside were not any kind of racial attacks,” she said while replying to questions about the incidents including the killing of Congo national Oliver in the national capital.
“These were not premeditated acts against a particular community. These were spontaneous criminal attacks perpetrated by anti-social and criminal elements,” she said.
She said the Government of India is giving a number of scholarships to African students for studying here and will now work with campuses to provide them accommodation within campuses too.
To help prevent the recurrence of any such attacks, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh will hold meetings with African community in major metropolitan cities where they reside and he will be accompanied by Secretary (Ecnomic Relations) and police commissioners of these cities.
“A sensitisation campaign is also being carried out,” she said, adding, “I have written to seven states which have more presence of African nationals to do sensitisation on pattern of that done in Delhi to avoid recurrence of such incidents.”
She said as a backlash of the killing of a Congo national in Delhi in May this year, there were few incidents of attacks against Indians in Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in which some Indians sustained minor injuries.
After this, the Indian Embassy in Kinshasa raised the issue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of DRC and sought police protection from the local government there for securing their life and property.
“An advisory was also issued to all Indian nationals assuring them of all assistance,” she said, adding that there were no serious injuries on Indians there.
“A monitoring mechanism has been established under the States Division of the Ministry to obtain feedback on various previous cases in coordination with respective state government,” she said. Swaraj said the African nations expressed apprehensions over the rising attacks on their nationals and “were satisfied” with the responses and steps taken by government of India to ensure their safety.
“They came and attended the African Summit and went back satisfied. The students also did not hold any protest which they initially proposed at Jantar Mantar in Delhi,” she said.
Noting that engagement with African nations has been more than ever before in the past, the Minister said,”We want more engagement with Africa and deeper economic ties with them.”
“India’s historical relations with Africa rest on the foundation of brotherhood and solidarity and such incidents which deflect from our historical friendship and close development partnership with Africa are unfortunate,”she said.
About the arrest of those bhind the killing of a Congo national, the Minister said, “Two persons have been arrested and the search for arresting the third person involved in the incident is on.”