India police arrest five over attacks on African residents

May 29, 2016 2:58 pm
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A Delhi deputy police commissioner Ishwar Singh said altercations and scuffles took place on Thursday night after locals became offended by Africans playing loud music and drinking alcohol in the street/FILE
A Delhi deputy police commissioner Ishwar Singh said altercations and scuffles took place on Thursday night after locals became offended by Africans playing loud music and drinking alcohol in the street/FILE

, NEW DELHI, India, May 29 – Police said Sunday they arrested five Indians accused of assaulting Africans in New Delhi, after African diplomats urged the Indian government to ensure the safety of their nationals living in the country.

A Delhi deputy police commissioner Ishwar Singh said altercations and scuffles took place on Thursday night after locals became offended by Africans playing loud music and drinking alcohol in the street.

Singh stressed to AFP that the three separate incidents were not racially motivated and were instead connected “entirely to local issues”.

“We still promptly registered the cases and arrested five locals today,” said Singh, deputy head of Delhi south region, adding that one of the Africans received only minor injuries during the heated exchanges.

The arrests come after a Congolese teacher was bludgeoned to death one week ago allegedly by three Indian men after an argument over hiring an auto-rickshaw taxi, in an upscale Delhi neighbourhood.

In a rare statement issued after the attack, a group of African ambassadors said African nationals were living in a “pervading climate of fear and insecurity” in Delhi.

They warned they may recommend their governments not to send students to India until safety conditions improve, following a string of what they said were unpunished racial attacks.

Police have arrested two of the three suspected of the killing.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, in a series of tweets on Sunday, promised swift action against those involved in Thursday’s incidents as well as a “sensitisation campaign” for “areas where African nationals reside”.

Junior foreign minister VK Singh, who has been deputed to meet and reassure African students in Delhi, accused the media of overreacting to the latest “minor” incidents.

Thousands of people from African countries study and work in India but several incidents have raised concerns of racist violence and discrimination.

In 2013, a Nigerian national was killed by a mob in the tourist state of Goa, with a state minister later calling Nigerians a “cancer”.

Delhi’s former law minister was also accused in 2014 of harassing African women after he led a vigilante mob through an area of the capital, accusing them of being prostitutes.

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