New Delhi: Amid outrage over more attacks on Africans in the national capital, eight people were held today for their involvement, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh directing the police to take strict action against the attackers and step up patrolling in the areas inhabited by the community.
"Four accused identified as Babu, Om Prakash, Ajay and Rahul have been arrested and the fifth accused, who turned out to be a minor, has been apprehended on charges of causing hurt and wrongful confinement," DCP (South) Ishwar Singh said about Thursday's incident in South Delhi's Mehrauli in which six Africans were injured.
Investigators said four more persons have been detained and were being interrogated in connection with the incident, which came close on the heels of killing of a Congolese national that had triggered angry reaction by all the African countries. Their envoys had unitedly threatened to boycott the Africa Day celebrations of the Indian government last week, before they were persuaded against it.
Police attributed two of Thursday's incidents to a dispute over African nationals playing loud music and other to a scuffle over public drinking.
Police also said they have started a sensitisation programme in areas where Africans have a major presence.
“We have arrested five people and apprehended a juvenile in conflict with law in connection with the attack on four African nationals. A few more people would be arrested soon,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Ishwar Singh.
A police official denied that rods or bats were used in the assaults, saying the nature of injuries would have been different then. He said one woman had sustained an injury on her nose.
Earlier, the Home Minister condemned the attack and called Delhi Police chief Alok Kumar Verma to his residence to express concern over the attacks.
"Spoke to Commissioner of Police, Delhi regarding the incidents of physical assault against certain African nationals. Such incidents are condemnable," Singh tweeted.
"Instructed CP Delhi to take strict action against the attackers and increase patrolling in these areas to ensure security of everyone," he said in another tweet.
Prior to that, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that she had spoken to the Home Minister as well as Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung over the incident, telling them to ensure security of African nationals. She said a sensitisation campaign will also be carried out in the areas where African nationals reside.
"I have spoken to Shri Rajnath Singh ji and Lt Governor Delhi reg(arding) attack on African nationals in South Delhi yesterday. They assured me that the culprits will be arrested soon and sensitisation campaign will be launched in areas where African nationals reside.
"I have asked Gen V K Singh, MoS and Secretary Amar Sinha to meet# African students who have announce(d) demonstration at Jantar Mantar," she added in another tweet.
Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the MEA has been in touch with African community following the attacks.
V K Singh, meanwhile, claimed that the attack on African nationals was a "minor scuffle" which the media was "blowing up" and questioned its motives.
On May 20, Congolese man Masonda Ketada Olivier, 29, was beaten to death by three men after an altercation over hiring of an auto-rickshaw in Vasant Kunj area turned violent. On late May 25, a 23-year-old Nigerian student was allegedly beaten by an Indian over a parking dispute in Hyderabad.
The incidents of violence against Africans — with suggestions that these attacks may have been “racial” in nature — led to protests by African heads of mission and a major effort by the government to assuage their concerns.