UN voices concerns over the Congolese murder in India
The UN voiced concerns over the killing of a Congolese national in India and a spate of attacks on African students. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said that said the United Nations would fight racism and xenophobia wherever it happened. He asked India to promote inclusivity and tolerance and ensure that such incidents didn't repeat.
In February 2016, a 21-year-old Tanzanian woman in Bengaluru was partly-stripped and beaten by a mob after a Sudanese man ran over a local. A few months beforehand, objecting to their pictures being clicked resulted in three African men being beaten by a Delhi mob. In Jan 2014, Somnath Bharti led a mob accusing four Nigerian women of running a drug and sex racket.
On the night of May 20, 29-year-old Masunda Kitada Oliver was beaten to death following a scuffle over the hiring of an autorickshaw. Following the argument, three men attacked Oliver and assaulted him with stones and bricks. When rushed to a nearby hospital, he was declared brought dead. Two suspects have been arrested for the murder while one is reported missing.
African diplomats, as a mark of protest, decided to stay away from 'Africa Day' celebrations. On May 24, Heads of Mission's of African countries considered recommending governments "not to send new students to India" because of "stereotypes and racial prejudice". Dean of African Group HoM's and Ambassador of Eritrea, Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, urged the Indian Government to address the problem of racism and Afro-phobia.
Africa Day is an annual celebration on 25th May. The day commemorates the establishment of the African Union in 2001 which replaced the Organisation of African Unity established on May 25, 1963. In India, Africa Day is organised by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, said she would personally invigilate the matter. VK Singh, said he would hold meetings with African students across metros to assure them of their security. Amar Sinha, Secretary Economic Relations assured African Ambassadors that authorities are given strict commands to take stringent action against culprits. He also mentioned that all criminal acts may not always be acts of racism.
The Ministry of External affairs is in damage-control mode after Heads of Missions (HoM's) of 42 African countries threatened to boycott Africa Day celebrations in Delhi. This is in reaction to the fate of Congolese national Masunda Kitada Oliver, who was murdered in the capital last week. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with her junior minister VK Singh assured African nationals of their safety.
Indian shops and businesses in Congo's capital Kinshasa were attacked by locals who also fired gunshots, injuring two Indians after the murder of a Congolese national in Delhi last week. The Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed the incidents and said it was in touch with the Congolese Foreign Ministry. The Congolese Foreign Ministry has assured the MEA that all Indian's would remain safe.
According to police sources, four African nationals were assaulted in separate incidents across Delhi on 26 May. The victims haven't lodged any complaint; however, police have registered a case on charges of intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt. Police said some of the attacks may have been racially motivated. Investigations are on-going to ascertain the cause of the assaults.
The Central government stepped in, to send a strong message and assure the African community of their safety as well of strong action against their attackers. After Delhi police apprehended five attackers involved in the recent spate of violence against African nationals, Home Minister Rajnath Singh stepped in to avoid a diplomatic crisis. EAM Sushma Swaraj assures swift and decisive action against the culprits.
In an attempt to assuage the fears of racist attacks in India, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will meet African students today. Expressing "deep" concern over attacks on African nationals, President Pranab Mukherjee also condemned the recent spate of attacks. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju called the incidents unfortunate, saying the government would ensure such attacks are not repeated.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stated that the killing of Masonda Ketada Olivier was "barbaric", but not an act of racism. Swaraj said, "Indian government is committed to a fast-track trial in the killing" and "harshest possible punishment" for the culprits. She also announced a slew of measures to be undertaken, including a country-wide sensitisation campaign so as to avoid future incidents like these.