New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) In the aftermath of a Congolese national’s murder here last week and the African diplomatic community seeking strong action from the government, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh will meet heads of African missions to assure the country’s nationals’ safety and security in India.
“I have asked my colleague General V.K. Singh to meet the heads of missions of African countries and assure them of Indian government’s commitment to the security of African nationals,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Wednesday.
“V.K. Singh will also hold meetings with African students in metro cities to assure them of their safety and security,” she said.
Masonda Ketada Oliver, 29, was beaten to death by three youths around 11.30 p.m. on Friday after a verbal altercation over the hiring of an auto-rickshaw near Kishangarh village in Vasant Kunj area of south Delhi.
On Tuesday, African heads of mission held a meeting here regarding the incident following which they issued a statement seeking strong action from the government.
The heads of mission stated that they were being left with little option but to advise their respective governments against new students to India.
“The Group of African Heads of Mission have met and deliberated extensively on this incidence in the series of attacks to which members of the African community have been subjected to in the last several years,” the statement by Ambassador of Eritrea Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, who is also dean of the Group of African Heads of Mission, said late Tuesday.
“They strongly condemn the brutal killing of the African and calls on the Indian government to take concrete steps to guarantee the safety and security of Africans in India,” it said.
Woldemariam said the African heads of mission here have noted with deep concern that “several attacks and harassment of Africans have gone unnoticed without diligent prosecution and conviction of perpetrators”.
In his statement on Tuesday, Woldemariam said that given the climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi, “the African heads of mission are left with little option than to consider recommending their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be granted”.
“Accordingly, the Indian government is strongly enjoined to take urgent steps to guarantee the safety of Africans including appropriate programmes of public awareness that will address the problems of racism and Afro-phobia in India,” he said.
The African envoys also said they would stay away from this year’s Africa Day celebrations being organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on May 26.
In a separate tweet on Wednesday, Sushma Swaraj said the government would launch a sensitisation programme to reiterate that such incidents against foreign nationals embarrass the country.
“When I came to know about the unfortunate killing of a Congo national in Delhi, we directed stringent action against the culprits,” she said.
“I would like to assure African students in India that this was an unfortunate and painful incident involving local goons.”
Swaraj said that she has asked Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najib Jung to take steps and ensure that this case was tried by a fast track court.
“Jung has assured me that he will take immediate action in this regard,” she said.