New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said that he was “pained” by the recent attacks on African students and stressed India’s relations with Africa “should not been jeopardised in any way”.
“Recent attacks on African students is extremely painful. As a student, political activist and MP, I have seen first-hand how India and Africa have always been close partners. It would be most unfortunate if people of India were to dilute our long tradition of friendship with people of Africa,” said Mukherjee, while addressing 7th Annual Heads of Missions Conference.
“African students in India should have no reason to fear for their safety and security. The bonds between the people of India and the people of Africa have been forged since time immemorial,” he added.
On May 20, a Congolese national was beaten to death by three men after an altercation over hiring of an auto-rickshaw in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area turned violent.
On May 25, a Nigerian student in Hyderabad was allegedly beaten by an Indian over a parking dispute. On May 28, four separate cases of alleged assault on Africans in the national capital was reported, adding to the growing number of such attacks.
Mukherjee, noting that India “led the long international struggle for the end of colonialism and apartheid in Africa”, and had no hesitation in breaking trade relations with South Africa in 1946, said the entire country had stood in support of African leaders like Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere during their freedom struggle.
“Most well known non-resident Indian was Mahatma Gandhi who made his first experiments with Satyagraha in South Africa. India’s relations with Africa should not be jeopardised in any way.
No impression which is not in line with our ethos or core values of our ancient civilization should be created,” he added.
Citing his own experience in the external affairs ministry, he said: “Appropriate awareness of India’s age old historical relations with Africa must be created in the minds of our youngsters. Indian Foreign Service (IFS) was built with great care and nurtured by mighty brains. I am proud of my past association with MEA by virtue of having been External Affairs Minister twice.”