New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said that he was “pained” by the recent attacks on African students while Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and Delhi Police chief Alok Kumar Verma assured them that the government is committed to ensuring their safety even as an Ola driver was allegedly thrashed by a group of Africans after he refused to take more than four passengers in his cab.
In a related development, the family members of Congolese national Masonda Ketada Olivier, who who beaten to death on May 20 by some locals over a minor altercation, arrived in the Indian capital to take back the mortal remains. A senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs was there at the airport to receive the kin.
A group of African students also held a protest at Jantar Mantar here, holding aloft placards that read ‘Racism Ruins Lives’, and demanded that the Indian government act swiftly to stop attacks on the community.
On Tuesday, a two-hour peaceful protest demonstration has been planned at the same venue by the Association of African Students in India (AASI) and Association For Community Research and Action (ACRA). External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State V.K. Singh are expected to meet African students here on Tuesday to assure them of safety and security.
Mukherjee meanwhile stressed India’s relations with Africa “should not be jeopardised in any way”.
“Recent attacks on African students is extremely painful. As a student, political activist and MP, I have seen first-hand how India and Africa have always been close partners. It would be most unfortunate if people of India were to dilute our long tradition of friendship with people of Africa,” he said, while addressing 7th Annual Heads of Missions Conference.
“…India’s relations with Africa should not be jeopardised in any way. No impression which is not in line with our ethos or core values of our ancient civilization should be created,” he added.
Verma, while meeting a African delegation at Delhi Police headquarters on Monday afternoon, asked them to freely approach police in case of any problem and briefed them on the sensitisation drive underway.
On Monday morning, Jaishankar met a group of African students at the Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan here and assured them of the safety and security of the community in India.
“Continuing outreach to African community. Foreign secretary meets a group of African students,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
“Foreign secretary to students: Ensuring safety and security of foreign students is an article of faith for us,” he added.
The spate of rising attacks on African nationals has caused outrage among the community, several thousands of who study in India. The African envoys had last week threatened to boycott the Africa Day event over the murder of Olivier.
The Indian government stepped in to assure thems of the safety and security of their nationals after which the envoys attended the May 26 event.
Meanwhile, an Ola cab driver was allegedly assaulted by a group of Africans — five men and a woman — after he refused to allow more than four passengers to travel in his vehicle, police said.
The incident took place in Mehrauli area in south Delhi around 4 a.m. and the taxi driver, identified as Nooruddin Ali, suffered cuts and bruises near his left eye in the attack.
“Nooruddin was attacked when he refused to carry more than four passengers in his car… he was thrashed by the six people, including a woman,” Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Nupur Prasad told IANS.
The woman attacker has been arrested while her other five associates managed to escape before police reached the spot following a PCR call, she said.
In Panaji, Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar, in wake of accusations of rape and kidnapping against two Africans by a woman on Sunday, said that Nigerian students commit crimes on purpose to prolong their stay, sell drugs and indulge in “unwanted things”.
On May 25, a Nigerian student in Hyderabad was allegedly beaten by an Indian over a parking dispute, while on May 28, four separate cases of alleged assault on Africans in the national capital were reported.