NEW DELHI: The beating up of five Nigerian students in Noida could have spiraled into yet another diplomatic row between India and Nigeria just like in 2013, but for quick response from Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.
The Minister immediately called up Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to expedite probe into the matter.
“I have spoken to Yogi Adityanath Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh about attack on African students in Greater Noida. He has assured that there will be a fair and impartial investigation into this unfortunate incident,” Swaraj said.
I have asked for a report from Government of Uttar Pradesh about the reported attack on African students in Noida.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 27, 2017
Minister of State MJ Akbar was also engaged in the firefighting, who spoke to the Acting High Commissioner of Nigeria and “assured of the steps being taken by local authorities for safety and security of Nigerian nationals”. The MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay after the “deplorable” incident also reiterated that “the government is committed to ensuring safety and security of all foreigners in India. People from Africa, including students and youth, remain our valued partners.”
The incident of crowd beating five Nigerian students has sent shock waves among the African students living in Noida.
Sadeeq Bello, a Nigerian student of Sharda University, wrote a SOS message to Swaraj saying “as an international student in Noida, you need to act fast as living for us in Noida is becoming a life threatening issue.” Swaraj immediately respondent assuring that the Government of India is seized of the matter. We are taking immediate action.”
In 2013 the ties between India and Nigeria had hit nadir after murder of a Nigerian in Goa. The murder led to demonstrations from the Nigerian nationals in the state and it snowballed into a row between Indian politicians and Nigerian envoys in India.
Signboards reading “Not to Nigerians, Not to Drugs” appeared across the state, favourite with foreign tourists. The incident had evoked strong reaction from Nigerian diplomat in Delhi, who said: “There are only 50,000 Nigerians living in India, but there are over a million Indians living in Nigeria. Thousands of Indians living there will be thrown out on the streets if the forcible eviction of Nigerians in Goa does not stop."
The African community in India, including the Nigerians, has long been complaining about discrimination and harassment from the public on a fairly regular basis.