India racism Africans
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) poses with the head of states of African countries during the inaugural session of the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India Adnan Abidi/Reuters

The African diplomatic community in India has complained over increasing "attacks and harassment" against black people in the country. The envoys' protest has come on the heels of the recent death of a Congolese national in capital, New Delhi. The African Group of Heads of Mission has said that it was cancelling the events scheduled for African Day celebrations on 25 May. The diplomats have pointed out a sharp surge of "racism and Afro-phobia" in the recent past.

"The Indian government is strongly enjoined to take urgent steps to guarantee the safety of Africans in India including appropriate programmes of public awareness that will address the problem of racism and Afro-phobia in India," Eritrean ambassador to India, Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, who is the chief o the African group, said according to the Indian daily Hindu.

Woldemariam has urged the civil society, media and research institutions to play an active role in curbing stereotypes against African people in the country.

The chiefs of all the African diplomatic missions in India held an emergency session on 24 May to discuss the matter over the recent killing of African national, Masonda Ketada Oliver. The Congolese national was beaten to death over a brawl with a local driver.

Responding to the diplomats' concerns, top Indian politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that they would look into the matter.

"When I came to know about the unfortunate killing of a Congo national in Delhi, we directed stringent action against the culprits. I would like to assure African students in India that this [as] an unfortunate and painful incident involving local goons," Swaraj wrote on Twitter.

Modi simply retweeted his earlier speech about "robust" ties between India and Africa. The protest by the African diplomats comes at a time when the Modi administration is looking to lure students from the continent to India for higher studies.

India has witnessed several attacks against black people in the recent past in which racism was found to be the motive. In January 2016, a mob had attacked and molested a Tanzanian girl while she was travelling with her friends in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, fueling tensions.