Attacks on Africans | ‘Painful and surprising’: Sushma Swaraj reacts to African envoys’ ‘Xenophobic’ remark

A day after the African envoys’ termed the recent attacks on African students as ‘xenophobic’ and ‘racial’, External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said it cannot be called racist before probe is completed.

Denouncing attacks on African nationals as “xenophobic and racial” in nature, heads of African missions in India have hit out at the government, saying it took no “known, sufficient and visible” deterrent action.

“The attack cannot be called racist before probe is completed. We are committed to African students’ safety,” said Swaraj in Parliament.

She also termed the African envoys’ statement as ‘unfortunate, painful and surprising’.

Condemning the attacks, the envoys’ expressed their deep concern and noted that these “reprehensible events, both outstanding and unresolved cases against Africans, were not sufficiently condemned by the Indian authorities”.

In a strongly-worded press release, the envoys, who recently held a “special” meeting on the incidents, agreed to call for an independent investigation by the Human Rights Council as well as other human rights bodies, and also to comprehensively report the matter to the Commission of the African Union.

They said they expected a strong condemnation of the attacks at the highest political level, both nationally and locally, indicating their disappointment over lack of response from the prime minister and Uttar Pradesh chief minister, it said.

There are missions of more than 50 African countries which are accredited to India. Four Nigerian students were attacked by a group of Greater Noida residents who took out a candle light march on March 26 after a 17-year-old boy Manish died due to suspected drug overdose.