Panaji: A minister in Goa who said "Nigerians are like a cancer" has told NDTV today, "I apologise 100 times and regret my mistake."
Dayanand Mandrekar, the Arts and Culture Minister in the BJP government, said, "In our culture, we greet a tourist by saying 'Atithi Devoh Bhavah'. They are like Gods for us but then they too have a responsibility. The behavior of some of Nigerians is a problem." (Watch)
The Goa government's reaction to the murder of a Nigerian last week has been described as "insulting" by some Nigerian diplomats, who allege that a drive to identify and deport foreigners without valid visas has been racist and indiscriminate, and that all their citizens are being treated like drug dealers.
After a Nigerian was killed last week in Mapusa, a group of 200 Nigerians blocked a major high way and clashed with the police and locals. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar then ordered the police and officials to identify Nigerians who are illegal residents of the state, and said they must be deported.
In a village in Mapusa, a banner that declares "Say No to Nigerians, Say No to Drugs" reflects the unsubtle racism that has engulfed the area. When asked if this was a matter of concern for his government, the chief minister said, "There is this feeling because more Nigerians have been arrested for indulging in the narcotics trade." (Watch: Goa chief minister blames Ministry of External Affairs for diplomatic row with Nigeria)
Government officials also say that the controversy was fuelled by a Nigerian consular attache who said that if the unlawful eviction of Nigerians was not stopped, Indians living in his country would be thrown out of their homes.
India's Foreign Affairs Ministry has stressed that New Delhi has a close and good working relationship with Nigeria, and that the safety of Nigerians will not be compromised.