With Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal adamant that there was no wrongdoing on the midnight raids that manhandled four Ugandan women, the Ministry of External Affairs called for an urgent meeting of African envoys saying the incident was ‘condemnable’ and the Centre is planning to take appropriate action.
A group of AAP supporters, led by Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti, on Thursday night approached the police to raid some residences in south Delhi, which they claimed to be a drug peddling hub of African nationals.
Later, four Ugandan women were mobbed and forced to undergo medical examination, including cavity search. One of them was allegedly asked to provide urine sample in public. The four women, who are now being represented by lawyer Harish Salve, have filed a police complaint. On Friday, around 20 ambassadors and diplomats of Africa assembled at South Block committee room. However, there was no representative from Uganda at the meeting, as all the officials were on travelling.
The MEA’s Secretary (west) Dinkar Khullar conveyed that the Centre’s condemnation of the incident and assured them appropriate action. Khullar told the envoys that the incident should remain an ‘aberration’ and that there was no ‘racial targeting’.
“The incident is utterly condemnable. We cannot condone it,” said MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.
Khullar informed that Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi would set up a special one-point window to look into the complaints from foreign nationals.
Official sources noted that the African diplomats ‘thanked’ the Ministry for its ‘swift action’ in convening the meeting. “Some of them said that they understood that it was not a governmental issue, while others articulated that there was a need for greater sensitisation,” he said.
Nigerian Ambassador Ndubuisi Vitus Amaku said that his country should be treated separately due to the large number of Nigerian nationals present in India. Ethiopian Ambassador Gennet Zewide, who is the Deputy Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, told mediapersons the incident ‘was not appropriate and should be condemned’. “We are all very concerned.. the way it was handled was not appropriate.. it was not right, it has to be condemned and we are seriously concerned,” she said. Asked if the incident was a ‘racial attack’, Zewide said ‘no’.
The ambassador also termed the incident an aberration.. not something that happens everyday, and voiced satisfaction with the government’s quick response.
In media interviews, Kejriwal defended Bharti’s action stating that his government had done nothing against foreigners. “I don’t think Somnath Bharti made racist comments. Bharti didn’t manhandle anybody during the raid,” Kejriwal said. The Chief Minister said, “we respect foreigners as our honoured guests.”
He said the Opposition and the media had hyped up the incident, adding that he would sit in dharna outside the Union Home Ministry’s office if the two Delhi police officials were not suspended.