The district magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar, Greater Noida, on Tuesday said Monday’s violence against Nigerian residents in the area was not a hate crime. Nagendra P Singh said the incident was triggered by a rumour spread by a few people, reported ANI.

“Absolutely not a hate crime, neither is it some kind of anger against a race,” Singh said. “A few people spread rumours regarding the death of a youth, which gave rise to anger.”

MJ Akbar, minister of states for external affairs, also spoke to the Nigerian High Commissioner about the recent attack on Nigerians in Delhi. He told him that the local administration was taking steps to ensure the community is safe in the Capital, reported ANI. Akbar also called the incident “deplorable”.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she had spoken to UP CM Yogi Adityanath regarding the matter. “He has assured that there will be a fair and impartial investigation,” she tweeted.

MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said the Indian government was committed to the safety and security of all foreigners. “People from Africa, including students and youth, remain our valued partners,” he said.

On Monday, four Nigerian students were injured after being attacked by a group of residents in Greater Noida’s Pari Chowk area. The incident took place when a group of more than 100 locals held a protest at the busy junction demanding that all Africans living in residential colonies in Greater Noida be asked to vacate their rented houses immediately.

The protest was organised after a Class 12 student in Greater Noida’s NSG Black Cats Enclave died of a suspected drug overdose on Saturday and five Nigerian students living in the neighbourhood were booked for murder. The students were later released for lack of evidence.

The situation worsened on Monday evening when reports of a Nigerian woman being abducted from near her apartment in Greater Noida’s Swarna Nagar started getting circulated through WhatsApp. The police dismissed this.
“We have investigated into the matter and it has turned out to be a rumour,” Sujata Singh said. “We are trying to ascertain the source of the rumour and strong action will be taken against those found to have spread it.”