President pained at attacks on African students


President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said that he was "pained" by the recent attacks on African students while Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and Delhi Police chief Alok Kumar Verma assured them that the government is committed to ensuring their safety.

In a related development, the family members of Congolese national Masonda Ketada Olivier, who who beaten to death on May 20 by some locals over a minor altercation, arrived in the Indian capital to take back the mortal remains. A senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs was there at the airport to receive the kin.

A group of African students also held a protest at Jantar Mantar here, holding aloft placards that read 'Racism Ruins Lives', and demanded that the Indian government act swiftly to stop attacks on the community.

On Tuesday, a two-hour peaceful protest demonstration has been planned at the same venue by the Association of African Students in India (AASI) and Association For Community Research and Action (ACRA). External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State V.K. Singh are expected to meet African students here on Tuesday to assure them of safety and security.

Mukherjee meanwhile stressed India's relations with Africa "should not be jeopardised in any way".

"Recent attacks on African students is extremely painful. As a student, political activist and MP, I have seen first-hand how India and Africa have always been close partners. It would be most unfortunate if people of India were to dilute our long tradition of friendship with people of Africa," he said, while addressing 7th Annual Heads of Missions Conference.

"...IndiaÂ’s relations with Africa should not be jeopardised in any way. No impression which is not in line with our ethos or core values of our ancient civilization should be created," he added.

Verma, while meeting a African delegation at Delhi Police headquarters on Monday afternoon, asked them to freely approach police in case of any problem and briefed them on the sensitisation drive underway.

On Monday morning, Jaishankar met a group of African students at the Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan here and assured them of the safety and security of the community in India.

"Continuing outreach to African community. Foreign secretary meets a group of African students," external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

"Foreign secretary to students: Ensuring safety and security of foreign students is an article of faith for us," he added.

The spate of rising attacks on African nationals has caused outrage among the community, several thousands of who study in India. The African envoys had last week threatened to boycott the Africa Day event over the murder of Olivier.

The Indian government stepped in to assure them of the safety and security of their nationals after which the envoys attended the May 26 event.

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