New Delhi: The lynching of a Congo national in Delhi on May 20 was not a case of racial discrimination, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said.
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Ms Swaraj, along with her junior Minister General VK Singh, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and other senior officials, met a group of African envoys and students who raised concerns over safety and security to which she assured that government is working on a "major strategy" under which an institutional mechanism will be put in place.
She also said that the government is committed to a fast-track trial in the case of killing of the Congolese national Masonda Ketada Oliver and "harshest possible punishment" for the culprits.
Terming the killing of Mr Oliver "barbaric", Ms Swaraj, however, said, "It is not a case of racial crime as the CCTV footage shows that the local residents who tried to save Oliver were also attacked."
"The ministry will be carrying out a sensitisation campaign across the country as such incidents are bad for the image of the country. An advisory will also be issued to the states to sensitise people in the areas where there is a big number of African nationals," she said.
This was Ms Swaraj's first official engagement in the Ministry after being discharged from AIIMS on May 15 where she was admitted for three weeks due to pneumonia.
During the meeting she also thanked the African students for calling off their protest at Jantar Mantar today following assurances by the ministry. She also appreciated the participation of African envoys at the India-hosted Africa Day celebration last week.
Ms Swaraj said, "We have made an elaborate plan. We will go to each and every city and carry out a sensitisation programme. We are making a major strategy. In the next 10-15 days, we are making an institutional mechanism."
Earlier, a group of African students called off a planned protest against attacks against the community following government's assurance.
There has been a series of attacks on African nationals in the last few days including assault on a 23-year-old Nigerian student in Hyderabad.
Minister of State for External Affairs had carried out a sensitisation programme at Chattarpur area in South Delhi on Sunday following attacks on African nationals in that area on Thursday night in which six persons from the community were injured.
Mr Jaishankar had met a group of African students yesterday and had told that safety and security of the community was an "article of faith" for the government.
Joint Secretary (West Africa) in the MEA Birender Yadav had received the family of Mr Oliver at the airport. The MEA is bearing all expenses related to dispatch of mortal remains of Mr Oliver.
In an apparent backlash to the attacks, a cab driver was beaten up allegedly by a group of Africans yesterday in south Delhi's Rajpur Khurd.