NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday said the recent incidents of violence against Africans in the country were not racial in nature and that it is taking steps to ensure the safety of African students in India.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, also said there should not be any racial discrimination in India.
“There should not be any racial discrimination in India,” Sushma Swaraj said.
Speaking on the killing of Congolese national Masonda Ketada Olivier in Vasant Kunj of Delhi in May, the minister said: “The Congolese national was not killed due to racism. CCTV footage is a proof that he was being beaten by some anti-social elements and the people around were trying to save him.”
“Those who were beating him, also hit those who were trying to save Olivier,” she said.
Referring to the assault of 23-year-old Nigerian student Kazeem in Hyderabad in May, the minister said: “Second incident was with a Nigerian national in a parking lot. I want to assure the House the incidents with African nationals in the last few days, none of them was a racial incident.”
According to reports, the Nigerian student was beaten up over a dispute on parking.
On measures to check violence against African students, the minister said the government is trying that students get colleges with hostel accommodation within the campus as one of the measures to ensure that such incidents do not happen in future.
“We want to take steps and ensure these incidents are not repeated,” she added.
Shushma Swaraj also said the Heads of Missions from African countries had initially asked the government to postpone the Africa Day function following a string of assault incidents, but the minister, and her junior minister VK Singh assured them that speedy action will be taken against the culprits.
Asked about retaliation in African countries against Indians, Sushma Swaraj said the incidents had only taken place in Congo’s capital Kinshasa where there was stone pelting on some Indian owned shops.
“I want to tell them (members) our embassy raised the issue with their foreign ministry and we asked them to give police protection to our citizens,” said Sushma Swaraj.
She added that the engagement with African countries under the Narendra Modi led government has been unprecedented.
“Under this government engagement with Africa has increased,” she said.