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Attacks on Africans: Show more empathy


Source: | Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The assault on the Nigerians reflected a grave breakdown of law and order, and India can’t seem to be defensive.

Apr 5, 2017: Quite understandably, the United Nations reacted to last week’s attacks on Nigerian nationals in UP’s Greater Noida, near Delhi, saying it hoped the perpetrators behind the attacks are brought to justice. This is mild enough, yet it conveys the message that India hasn’t handled things well on the diplomatic front. While the heads of some African missions in India hit out at the government, saying it took no “known, sufficient and visible” deterrent action over the attacks they termed as “xenophobic and racial in nature”, India was seen trying to fend off the issue — in what clearly seemed a refusal to accept there was any racial bias. The MEA spokesman spelt out the official India position — that it was a crime on the street in the aftermath of an Indian student dying of a possible drug overdose.

Official India’s state of denial was also reflected in the MEA revealing some key African heads of missions in India had denied they were neither consulted nor attended the meeting of envoys at which the attack on Africans was taken up in New Delhi. On the contrary, India should have been far more proactive in reassuring foreigners living in India that they were safe, and action would be taken against those who took the law into their own hands. The assault on the Nigerians reflected a grave breakdown of law and order, and India can’t seem to be defensive. Mob rule in any case is anathema to social peace, and action must be taken against those who carried out the attacks.

India should have chosen a more visible public platform to condemn the attacks. Since Manmohan Singh’s time as Prime Minister from 2004, India has built up ties with a wider number of African nations rather only those with which it had enjoyed close ties earlier. A high authority like the external affairs minister should have been seen tending to this event, that has wider ramifications on not only nation-to-nation ties but also the physical fact of foreigners living in India. There was a clear need to put out a morale-boosting statement than trying to justify the unjustifiable. Just as India reacts swiftly to any attack on an Indian anywhere in the world, it must show sufficient empathy when foreigners are mistreated on our soil. It is simply foolish to pretend that there’s no racism in India and among Indians as racial prejudices are a universal phenomenon. The quest for justice in the matter of Nigerians being attacked by a mob must not be given up, and not just because Africa is valuable as a mineral-rich continent and thus strategically important. We have just not been humane enough to accept that people have been terrorised in India.



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