Hours after union Home Minister Rajnath Singh condemned attacks on Africans in the national capital and asked police to be more active, Delhi Police said on Sunday that six people, including a juvenile, were held for cases of assaults on five Africans but ruled out the crimes being planned or racial.
Police also said they have also 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.
Those arrested were identified as Babu, 32, Kunal, 20, Om Prakash, 24, Rahul, 24, and Ajay, 25, – all residents of Mehrauli’s Maidan Garhi and Rajpur Khurd areas in south Delhi.
He said police have registered four separate cases after the four attacks occurred within a radius of one km on Thursday night in Mehrauli area.
“Neither the attacks were racial nor were they planned. These are all isolated incidents. One attack took place for playing music loudly, another for drinking alcohol on way in the night… We had to register the cases on suo motu first information reports (FIRs) as none of the victims came forward to file a complaint,” said the DCP.
Some of the victims, however, said they faced racist slurs while being attacked.
On Thursday night, two calls were made to the Delhi Police control room reporting a brawl in Rajpur Khurd area where many Africans reside.
The first call was made at 11 p.m. by a Nigerian national Kenneth Igbinosa, 29, a priest at the local church, following a minor brawl with local residents when he was going in his car to a chemist, a police official said.
“I was attacked by 15-20 people while travelling in my car with my wife and son. I heard some of the attackers saying ‘You leave our country, you Africans’,” said Igbinosa.
The second call came from Lockey, a Nigerian, who, according to police, was allegedly assaulted after he intervened to save the driver of the auto-rickshaw in which he was travelling from being beaten by a car driver following an argument.
He received minor injury on his nose when he “fell on a stone” on the road, police said.
A Cameroonian businessman Pierres and his sister Vicky were attacked by a group when they were getting off an auto rickshaw. A group of people also attacked Ugandan national Shamima Nazzasi, a salon owner, with sticks and pieces of wood in Chhattarpur in south Delhi.
Ishwar Singh said sensitisation programmes has been started at Maidan Garhi and Rajpur Khurd areas, which have over 300 African residents.
Police met with residents as well as members of the African community and discussed their concerns in detail. The latter were told to get in touch with police in case of any difficulty.
“I held a meeting of residents of Rajpur Khurd and Maidan Garhi which was attended by about 250 villagers. Similar meetings were also held by senior police officers in other parts of Delhi to prevent recurrence of such incidents,” said the DCP.
Asked if police will continue the sensitisation programme, he said: “I will hold a regular meeting with residents in the area… Regular night patrolling will also be done.”
Earlier, Rajnath Singh, condemning the attacks on Africans, told the city police to step up patrolling in neighbourhoods that have significant African populations.
“Instructed CP (commissioner of police) Delhi to take strict action against the attackers and increase police patrolling in these areas to ensure security of everyone,” he said in a tweet.
In another tweet, he said: “Spoke to CP Delhi regarding the incident of physical assault against certain African nationals in New Delhi. Such incidents are condemnable.”
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Rajnath Singh and Delhi Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung assured her on Saturday that the culprits would be arrested soon and a sensitisation campaign would be launched in areas where many Africans reside.
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.
Meanwhile 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.