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Africans attacked in India

Manasi Gopalakrishnan (with PTI)May 29, 2016

Delhi's police have arrested five people for assaulting and intimidating Africans in the capital's southern area. The incidents occurred shortly after a Congolese man was beaten to death last week.

Image: Getty Images/AFP/M. Kiran

"We have arrested five locals for criminal intimidation and assault, another two or three would be arrested soon," South Delhi police chief Ishwar Singh told journalists.

He however denied any racial motive behind the attacks. "Two of the incidents were scuffles, after locals raised objections to their playing loud music and drinking in public places at night. These were essentially altercations between locals and Africans."

Earlier, police officials confirmed that two women, a Ugandan and a South African, and at least two Nigerian men, were assaulted by local people last week. Singh told journalists that none of the victims had been seriously injured and that a Nigerian national, identified as Leuchy, sustained minor injuries on his nose.

"None of the African nationals agreed to give a complaint. However, the local police acting on their own have registered criminal cases. The accused persons involved in these incidents have been identified and efforts are on to arrest them," he added.

Indian Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh condemned the violence, saying he had ordered the police chief police to take strict action against the attackers.

The incidents took place on Thursday in southern Delhi after locals raised objection to the Africans playing music and consuming alcohol in public.

One of the victims, 32-year-old Leuchy, told reporters that he had been living in the area for the last six years and was on his way to church when he was attacked by a group of men.

"They attacked me with [cricket] bats and a stone, which caused a deep injury on my nose among other wounds," he said. "They kept thrashing me as I screamed for help asking them why they were doing so."

Intolerance against Africans

The attacks took place nearly a week after a 23-year-old Congolese man was beaten to death, also in southern Delhi. Earlier this year, a Tanzanian woman was attacked, stripped and her car set on fire in the southern city of Bangalore.

The Indian government has promised swift action after several African countries demanded that officials ensure the safety of Africans living in India. Officials were also planning awareness campaigns in areas where Africans lived, according to Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Hundreds of thousands of African students work and study in India, where they often face racism and severe discrimination. Police has been slow in registering cases of violence against people of African origin.