NEW DELHI: External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said the central government is committed to providing security to African students in India after a meeting with a delegation of students from the continent. She was accompanied by minister of state for external affairs VK Singh and foreign secretary S Jaishankar.
Swaraj also said the incident of the killing of a Congolese national, Masunda Oliver, was not a case of racial discrimination.
Accompanied by ministry officials, Singh will visit each metropolitan city and hold meetings with students in order to reassure African students. The ministry will also undertake a sensitisation campaign all over the country to prevent any attacks on them.
“We tried to explain to them that although the incident is huge, it isn’t an incident of racial discrimination,” Swaraj said after meeting the delegation. “The CCTV footage clearly shows that Indian citizens who were present at the spot tried their best to save Oliver.” The minister termed his death both painful and unfortunate.
“We held a meeting with African students and told them the incident of the death of the Congolese national is not only unfortunate but painful for us,” Swaraj said. She said that as a mother, she could understand the pain of Oliver’s parents who lost their son on foreign soil.
Oliver’s killing, a slew of other attacks on Africans in New Delhi, and a case in Hyderabad in which a Nigerian man was beaten up, has caused widespread anger among the community. A group of African students held a protest at Jantar Mantar on Monday.
Meanwhile, after the government assured them of better security, African students called off a demonstration in the capital to protest the spate of assaults against the community. The students said they had a meeting with officials of the ministry of external affairs, where they were assured of security. They were also requested not to go ahead with their planned protest at Jantar Mantar.
“There was a high-level meeting with the permanent secretary of the ministry of external affairs yesterday. He listened to our grievances and made commitments to ensure our safety. Leaders of 15 African countries were also present at the meeting,” the Association of African Students in India said in a statement.