Following the recent attacks on different African people in India, the country’s president, Pranab Mukherjee, has expressed concerns that the relationship between India and Africa is being threatened. Speaking to a gathering of Indian envoys from across the world, President Mukherjee stated that African students in the country should not be worried about their safety and security.
During his address, the president also stated that it would be unfortunate if the Indo-African relationship diminishes, and stressed that the Indian youth need to be educated about the history of that relationship. And perhaps to set the ball rolling, the president will be visiting Namibia, Ghana, and Ivory Coast in June. Meanwhile India’s Minister of State for the North East region, VK Singh, and External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, will be meeting with African students today to assure them of their safety and security which the Delhi Police Chief, Alok Kumar Verma, says the government is committed to ensuring.
This assurance from the government led the Association of African Students in India to call off a proposed demonstration in Jantar Mantar today over the increased attacks on Africans in the past couple of weeks. Days ago, a 26-year-old Nigerian man was assaulted in the southern city of Hyderabad, while a student from the Democratic Republic of Congo was beaten to death in Delhi in an apparent racially motivated attacks. Two men have been arrested in connection with the Congolese national’s murder, while investigations continue into the case of the Nigerian that was assaulted.
Racism and discrimination against Africans in India – or ‘Afrophobia’ – repeatedly shows itself in cases of verbal abuse and physical violence in these communities. African students in the country have been very vocal about being on the receiving end of racism from Indians whenever they venture past the ‘safety’ of their school campuses or dorms. Although the unfortunate behaviour is not necessarily limited to them.
The degeneration of the situation caused African diplomats to threaten to boycott the annual Africa Day celebrations last week Thursday. Furthermore, they asked the Indian government to adequately address the situation, otherwise they will discourage their nationals from applying to Indian universities to study in a “climate of fear and insecurity.”