NEW DELHI: Terming the killing of a Congolese national in the capital as unfortunate, Mahesh Sharma, tourism and culture minister, said that even African countries are not safe.
“India is a large country and such incidents will give a bad name to India. It is an unfortunate incident. However, even Africa is not safe,” Mr Sharma told IANS in an interview.
“Such incidents happen in other parts of the world too,” he added.
He narrated how he had to cut down his morning and evening walks during a visit to South Africa because of safety concerns, and said that it is unfair to paint India as an unsafe country.
“When I went to South Africa, I was stopped from going for a morning walk at 6 a.m. by the hotel people citing security reasons. My post dinner walk was also dropped for the same reasons. It’s not fair to say that India is unsafe,” said the minister.
The murder of the Congolese youth has snowballed into a diplomatic issue as the envoys of the African nations initially expressed apprehension about attending the ‘Africa Day’ celebrations on Thursday. Later, they came around after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj gave an assurance about the safety of African nationals.
The Congolese youth was beaten to death last week in Vasant Kunj area over a petty dispute.
Mr Sharma added that the tourism ministry has introduced measures to ensure safety of foreign nationals in the country.
“The tourism ministry has introduced a helpline no 1363 for foreign nationals who visit India. We also issue certain do’s and don’ts for them here,” said the minister.