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Attack on Nigerians: Sushma Swaraj defends govt, terms statements by African envoys 'unfortunate'

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday refuted allegations that adequate steps were not taken regarding the attack on Nigerian nationals in Greater Noida and termed the statement by African envoys in the matter as "unfortunate and surprising".

She said the government is committed to ensuring the security and safety of foreign nationals in India.

"You can't say our steps are inadequate. We are committed to ensuring the security of all foreigners including African nationals in India," Sushma Swaraj said in Lok Sabha while making a statement on the attack on Nigerian nationals in India.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

Swaraj said that it was too early to term the nature of the attack as racial until the probe ends.

"The attack cannot be called racist before the probe is completed. I said this in the context of attacks in the US too," she said.

"African envoys' statement on attacks on African students is unfortunate, painful and surprising," Swaraj said.

African Heads of Mission posted in New Delhi have strongly condemned the 27 March attack on Nigerian nationals and said such attacks were "xenophobic and racial in nature".

They have also indicated they may call a special meeting on the issue.

They also kept open the possibility of taking the matter to international human rights bodies for an independent investigation if the Indian government failed to take legal action against the perpetrators.

On this development. Swaraj was quoted by The Hindu as saying, “They said that they want to go to the Human Rights Council. Do we have any shortage of institutional system in India? We have free press, judiciary, national human rights body to ensure the safety of all Africans.”

The minister said that she had strongly protested their plan to reach out to the United Nations while meeting the dean of African Group Head of Missions, Alem Tsehaye Woldemariam.

Woldemaraiam, the Eritrean envoy met Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh on Wednesday, who briefed him on the developments in the case. "My role is that of a bridge between my colleagues from Africa and India. The statement that we issued on 31 March was a collective expression of our position and we will take a collective call on the measures that India has taken to deter such attacks in future,” he was quoted by The Hindu as saying after the meeting.

The attack on four Nigerian students took place on 27 March night in Greater Noida, some 40 km from the Indian capital, following protests over the death of a Class 12 student of a residential colony there due to drug overdose. Later, some people who were holding a candle-light vigil for the student attacked the Nigerians, suspecting them of drug-peddling.

With inputs from IANS

Updated Date: Apr 05, 2017 16:13 PM

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