India is remorseful of the recent series of attacks on Africans in the country, saying that it would be “unfortunate” if the longstanding friendship between Indian and Africa was diluted.
“It would be most unfortunate if the people of India were to dilute our long tradition of friendship with the people of Africa and the welcome we have always extended to them in our country,” President Mukherjee said.
“African students in India should have no reason to fear for their safety and security,” he added.
This comes on the heels of renewed “Afro-phobia and racism” against African students in India.
Last week, following continued attacks on some students which were triggered by the assault and subsequent death of a French teacher, African envoys boycotted an event, Africa Day, organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). Masonda Ketada Olivier, a Congolese national, was killed by three drunk Indian men over a minor argument concerning the hiring of an auto-rickshaw.
Since the attack on the Congolese man, a dozen Africans were allegedly attacked and racially abused by the residents in Maidangarhi and Rajpur Khurd villages. More African youths, mostly from Nigeria, were also attacked Kishangarh village near Vasant Kunj.
The victims in collaboration with Association of African Students in India (AASI) and Association For Community Research and Action (ACRA) held a peaceful protest march at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday to condemn the attacks and discrimination.
“We shall have to create appropriate awareness in the minds of our youngsters who may not know the history, age old relations with Africa. India has had trading relations with African countries for centuries, and every one of the 54 countries of Africa has a thriving Indian community doing business, and industry,” the head of state said.
On their parts the Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Delhi Police chief Alok Kumar Verma assured African students that the government is committed to ensuring their safety.
At the Tuesday meeting, the police chief reiterated that the government was ready protect the aggrieved students and African community in India.
A statement from the police said several meetings between representatives from the two groups were held to create understanding. The statement further called on Africans not take law into their own hands. Instead, the Africans were requested to “contact local police whenever they feel uncomfortable or see any act of crime perpetrated on them or if they have any apprehension," the statement added.
According to the statement, Africans, and other immigrants could call 100 or 8750871111, a dedicated Helpline for foreigners in case of emergency.
The police kept people abreast with the undertakings of the meeting using its social media handle.
In a bid to strengthen the country’s relationship with Africa, India’s head of state is set to visit Namibia, Ghana, and Ivory Coast in June. Though isolated, the racist attacks and derogatory comments against Africans could escalate if nothing is done to restore peaceful coexistence between the two communities as well as other nationals in the country.
Image credit: AP