New Delhi: Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj today asserted in parliament that attacks on Africans near Delhi were "criminal acts" and cannot be called racial. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is personally monitoring the cases, she said, emphasizing, "Before the inquiry is completed, please don't say it is driven by racial discrimination."
The minister was speaking in the Lok Sabha, where some opposition leaders demanded to know what the government's response was to allegations of "racial attacks" on Africans in Greater Noida. "I was surprised and pained to see the charge that India is a xenophobic country," Ms Swaraj said.
"It is wrong to say racial attack since this was done by an angry mob...Indians have also died in African nations, we didn't allege racial attacks?"
On Monday, India reacted sharply as a group of 44 African envoys described the attacks as "xenophobic and racial" and accused the government of taking no "known, sufficient and visible" deterrent action. The envoys also said they would go to the UN Human Rights Council.
This morning, Minister of State VK Singh met with the Dean of African Head of Missions.
In two attacks last week that were caught on camera, four Nigerians were assaulted by a large group of people taking out a candlelight march at Greater Noida to protest against the death of a schoolboy of a suspected drug overdose and a Nigerian student was beaten mercilessly inside a mall by a mob.
"The incident took place when some miscreants took advantage of the anger among locals in the death of 19-year-old Manish allegedly due to drug overdose," said Ms Swaraj.
The minister said a third attack reported on a Kenyan woman was false and she had lied. "Six people have been arrested, is that not a sign we are taking action?"
"They want to go to the UN Human Rights Council, we have all human rights institutions here...a free press, judiciary," Ms Swaraj said