Police arrest 5 in India over attacks on African residents – Official denies attacks were racial, says stray incident

NEW DELHI: Police in New Delhi said yesterday that they have arrested five people who assaulted six Africans in the Indian capital last week, as African diplomatic missions urged India’s government to ensure the safety of Africans living in the country.

Police officer Ishwar Singh said the two scuffles on Thursday night were not racial attacks but were stray incidents triggered by objections to drinking and loud music by the Africans. The Africans said they were racially abused and attacked by a mob.
Singh said that the Africans suffered minor injuries and that the arrested people were being investigated for criminal intimidation and assault in New Delhi’s Mehrauli area. If convicted, those arrested can be jailed for up to two years.

Hundreds of thousands of people from African nations study and work in India and suffer rampant racism and discrimination in the country, where police action often has been slow in cases of violence against Africans. On May 20, graduate student Masunda Kitada Oliver, a Congo national who had lived in India for six years, was fatally attacked in a dispute over hiring an auto rickshaw in New Delhi. Three men who insisted they had hired the vehicle beat him up and hit him on the head with a stone, killing him, according to police. Two of the men suspected in the attack have been arrested, while police are searching for the third.

The African Heads of Mission in New Delhi responded to that attack by urging India’s government to address “racism and Afro-phobia” in the country. India promised quick punishment for the assailants.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Sunday that “a sensitization campaign will be launched in areas where African nationals reside.”

Retaliatory attacks were reported against Indians in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa. Vikas Swarup, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman, said the Indian diplomatic mission in Kinshasa learned that some Indian establishments and shops in the commercial area were attacked on May 23 and 25 “as a reaction perhaps to the killing of a Congolese national in New Delhi.”

“It has also been reported that there were some gunshots fired, injuring a couple of Indians living in the area. Our ambassador took up the matter immediately with the Congolese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Swarup said Friday, adding that the situation had calmed down. -AP

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