The Indian foreign ministry rejected allegations by African envoys who slammed Indian authorities for not condemning and taking enough measures in the recent "xenophobic and racist" attacks on African students living in Greater Noida.
Terming the claims "unfortunate", the Ministry of External Affairs explained that several arrests have been made in the cases and investigations were ongoing. It also added that the issue was strongly condemned by the government and discussed in Parliament.
On Monday (3 April), chiefs of missions of 43 African countries hit out at New Delhi for failing to take any "known, sufficient and visible" deterrent action in two recent incidents of attacks on African students.
The first attack took place on 27 March in Greater Noida, 45km from capital New Delhi, in which three Nigerian students were injured after an angry mob beat them up with sticks and batons, accusing them of cannibalism and murder of an Indian student. The boy died on 25 March of alleged drug overdose and residents of the area accused a group of African students of drugging the teenage boy. The second incident followed a few days later in which four men beat up an African student in a shopping mall in the city.
"It is unfortunate that a criminal act triggered following the untimely death of a young Indian student under suspicious circumstances has been termed as xenophobic and racial. Investigations on the death of Indian teenager and the subsequent incident by local authorities are ongoing," the ministry said in a statement on Monday.
"Following [External Affairs Minister]'s conversation immediately after the incident with the Chief Minister of the State of Uttar Pradesh, local authorities expeditiously arrested suspects. They registered an FIR and are investigating the matter comprehensively," it added.
The ministry also said that security has been beefed up to protect African students and residents have also been sensitised against ill-treating foreign students or nationals. It also added that "strong Indian institutions are adequate to deal with aberrations that represent the act of a few criminals" the Indian Express reported.
The statement was issued in response to a statement from the office of the Dean of the African Group Head of Missions that said the African envoys expected strong condemnation of the attacks at the highest political level in India, both nationally and locally.
The missions also said that a meeting of the African envoys "unanimously agreed that those accumulated attacks against Africans are xenophobic and racial in nature" and have agreed to call for an independent investigation by the Human Rights Council and other human rights bodies. It added that the group will also comprehensively report the matter to the Commission of the African Union.