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NIZ GOENKAR
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Wrong to link attacks on African nationals with racism: Government
Thursday - Jun 8, 2017
New Delhi: In the wake of repeated attacks on African nationals in Greater Noida, UP recently, following which African nations reacted strongly and alleged that the attacks are racist and xenophobic, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday told Parliament that it was wrong to link the case with racism before the "impartial probe" being conducted into the case gets over.
 
In fact she said, these were criminal offences and had nothing to do with racial violence. "It is not right to link this with racism before the probe ends. I said this in context of attacks in the United States too," Swaraj said, while speaking on the issue in Lok Sabha, during zero hour when the issue was taken up.
 
Swaraj was referring to the incident where four Nigerian students were brutally assaulted after a protest over the death of a 17-year-old turned violent. "You can't say our steps are inadequate. We are committed to ensuring security of all foreigners in India," she said addressing concerns raised over the safety of foreigners in the country, by opposition parties.  "We are constantly working for security of African nationals. We told him calling us 'xenophobic' and then saying you will go to the United Nations Human Rights Council was not right. V K Singh has spoken to the Dean of African envoys, who is also the ambassador of Eritrea," she added.
 
Swaraj also said she has asked her deputy M J Akbar to speak to Nigerian diplomats about her telephonic conversation with the UP chief minister and brief them about developments in the case, since the UP CM has assured her of an "impartial probe" into the matter.  A day earlier, the Heads of Missions of African countries in India slammed physical attacks on their compatriots as "xenophobic and racial" in nature, saying the government in New Delhi took no "known, sufficient and visible" deterrent action despite such incidents happening in the past.
 
In a strongly-worded press statement, the envoys of 44 African nations, had called for an independent investigation by the UN Human Rights Council as well as other human rights bodies. Terming this as "unfortunate, painful and surprising",  Swaraj said, she was disappointed with what the African envoys had remarked. "I am surprised and disappointed with what the Dean said, hence I called him today. We told him that if you weren't satisfied, you should've asked for meeting with the PM," she said . - Sent by Roger D'Souza

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