Five people have been arrested in connection with attacks on African students in Greater Noida, sparking concern over their safety and prompting intervention by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who has promised immediate action.
While Swaraj spoke to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath after being approached by an African student who pleaded for action describing the situation as “life threatening”, her ministry termed these attacks as “deplorable”.
Four Nigerian students were attacked by a group of Greater Noida residents who took out a candle-light march on Monday after a 17-year-old boy Manish died last week in the NSG Black Cats Enclave due to suspected drug overdose.
The protest march was taken out after the police released some Nigerians detained for questioning in connection with death of Manish, a class 12 student, due to “lack of evidence”.
Following the incident, Nigerian high commission officials went to meet the injured nationals and said they felt “unsafe”. A senior high commission official said the mission was in touch with the external affairs ministry on the issue.
MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said the government is committed to ensuring safety and security of all foreigners in India and people from Africa, including students, remain “our valued” partners.
Noting that law enforcement authorities of the district have made arrests and are investigating the matter, he said, “They are also taking necessary steps to keep the situation under control.”
Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar spoke to the acting high commissioner of Nigeria to discuss the steps being taken by the local authorities for safety and security of Nigerian nationals, Baglay said.
Earlier, in a series of tweets, Swaraj said, “I have spoken to Yogi Adityanath ji Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh about attack on African students in Greater Noida. He has assured that there will be a fair and impartial investigation into this unfortunate incident (sic).”
She was responding to a tweet from a student who requested her to “act fast as living for us in Noida is becoming a life threatening issue”.
Noting that the protesters became violent during the protest march and started beating up the Africans they saw on the road, Sujata Singh, Superintendent of Police, Greater Noida said, “They also went to Ansal Mall and caused havoc and beat up Africans there.
“The police then rescued them and moved them to a safe place,” she said.
“The police had to use force to dissuade people from attacking and arrested five people from the spot. Many of them who were there trying to play mischief have been identified as the entire event had been videographed,” Daljit Chaudhary, ADG Law and Order, told reporters in Greater Noida.
He said an FIR has been registered against nine people who have been named besides others, and action will be taken accordingly.
Meanwhile, the district magistrate on Tuesday held a meeting with Nigerian Association, RWA representatives, Bar Association members and other officials from colleges and universities to diffuse tension after attacks on Nigerians.
Residents are demanding that Nigerians should be moved out of the city and alleged they were involved in drug racket and have spoiled the atmosphere as local youth were getting addicted to drugs due to easy supply of narcotics allegedly by the Nigerians.
District Magistrate N P Singh said India and Africa have old ties and local residents should understand this aspect. He condemned the assault on Nigerians by local residents.
He said “Nigerian students or other students from other countries are our guests”. Indian culture is ‘Atithi Devo Bhav’, DM said adding “we should respect all foreign students. All countries have different cultures and dress and language”.
To prevent recurrence of such violent incidents, people from all classes of society in the city should come forward and create harmonious atmosphere and respect the culture and traditions of foreign students.
Social organisations should hold cultural events involving the Nigerians and depict their way of life and culture and residents should mingle with Nigerians and try to understand them as individuals and build confidence among them so that they feel secure to live in the city, he said.
DM also appealed to colleges and universities where foreign students study to hold cultural workshops to provide them knowledge of Indian culture and also involve local students and ensure brotherhood among Indian and foreign students.
Public should not pay heed to rumours. If they find any foreign student involved in any wrong activity they should inform police and district administration.
Administration will involve college management and also conduct inquiry and take action if any such student is found, he said.
Sujata Singh, SP, Greater Noida, Kumar Vineet, Additional District Magistrate, Rajesh Kumar Singh, Sub Divisional Magistrate, Anjani Kumar, City Magistrate and district officials were present along with local NGOs and RWAs representatives and college managements.
IMAGE: Injured Nigerian nationals being treated at a hospital in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI