External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said an independent inquiry into the attacks on African nationals in Greater Noida was under way and the incidents should not be termed racial yet. “The incident took place when some miscreants took advantage of anger among locals at the death of 19-year-old Manish allegedly due to drug overdose,” she said in the Lok Sabha.
“Before the inquiry is completed, please do not say it is driven by racial discrimination. We do not immediately say that attacks in the United States are due to racial discrimination,” she added. The minister’s response came after the African Group Head of Missions accredited to India called the recent attacks on expatriates from the continent in Greater Noida “xenophobic and racial”.
A statement from the envoys on Monday said they had reviewed similar incidents from the past and noted that the Indian government had taken “no known, sufficient and visible deterring measures” to tackle them. However, Swaraj had said the Centre had held meetings with the victims and promised action.
After meeting with Dean of the African Group Head of Missions Alem Tsehaye Woldemariam, Swaraj had questioned their decision to escalate the matter to the level of the United Nations. “They said that they want to go to the [UN] Human Rights Council. Do we have any shortage of institutional system in India? We have free press, judiciary, national human rights body to ensure safety of all Africans,” she said, adding that India had conveyed its objection to the move, The Hindu reported.
The UN had condemned the attacks on African nationals in Greater Noida on Monday and expressed hope that the perpetrators will be punished. “We do very much hope that people who are responsible for the attacks are brought to justice,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the United Nations secretary-general told reporters. On being asked whether the UN was planning to take any action on the matter, he replied that he was not aware of the organisation being involved in the incident.