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Racial attacks in the country cannot be justified : Kurien

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The recent brutal mob attack on Nigerian students in Greater Noida made waves in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, with the Deputy Chairman P J Kurien himself asking the Centre to take strong action in curbing such "racial attacks" against African nationals in the country.  

Responding to serious concerns expressed by Opposition MPs on this matter during Zero Hour, the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj assured the Upper House that there will be an impartial probe into the 27 March attack on Nigerian students following which, she added, appropriate action will be taken against the guilty.

Mrs Swaraj said as soon as the incident occurred she sought a report from the UP government and spoke to the UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath who, she added, gave the assurance about an impartial probe into it.

To members' queries, she said it would not be appropriate for her to say more about the incident since its investigation is continuing. She however said the authorities have been on alert to ensure that such incidents do not recur.

"Both incidents are unfortunate. Firstly, a 19 year-old local boy died and thereafter Nigerian students were severely beaten up…On behalf of the Uttar Pradesh CM and myself, I want to assure that there will be impartial probe," Mrs Swaraj said.

She was referring to a young resident of Greater Noida, Manish, who had died due to suspected drug overdose. A section of local residents blamed Africans living in the area for his death and violently went after some Nigerian students whom they spotted while taking out a candle-light protest march on 27 March evening there.  

Mrs Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha that the UP administration was taking steps to maintain law and order and that the injured Nigerian students were being treated in a hospital.

The issue was raised by the JD-U leader Sharad Yadav, which was echoed and endorsed by many members, including the Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress), Anand Sharma (Congress) and Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M).

Agreeing with them, Deputy Chairman Kurien said : "We  are  condemning  the  racial  attacks  on  Indians  in

other  countries  like  USA  and  Australia,  but  at  the  same  time  racial attacks in our country cannot be justified. The government should be very vigilant. A very strong action should be taken." 

Mr Yadav demanded that both the external affairs and home ministries should take necessary steps in this matter. "We don't want Africans to face discrimination in our country. Steps should be taken on a war-footing. A wrong message is going outside the country," he said.

Mr Sharma said India's goodwill, respect and image were being damaged across the world due to such "racial" attacks on African nationals. He demanded a special cell in the external affairs and home ministries for ensuring their safety and security.

Mr Yechury sought a special resolution in the House on the issue.