New Delhi : President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said that he was “pained” by the recent attacks on African students and stressed that India’s relations with Africa “should not been jeopardised in any way”.

Mukherjee was addressing the 7th Annual Heads of Missions Conference. “The recent attacks on African students are 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 the people of Africa,” said Mukherjee.  “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.

Going into damage control after V K Singh’s attempts to downplay the attacks as ‘scuffles’ overplayed by the media, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar on Monday assured a group of African students that the Indian government is committed to ensuring their safety and security.

But the assurance must have sounded hollow as an Ola driver was allegedly thrashed by a group of Africans after he refused to take more than four passengers in his cab.

Meanwhile, the family members of the Congo national, who was beaten to death on May 20 over a minor altercation, arrived in the capital to take back his mortal remains. A senior official of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs was there at the airport to receive the kin.

A group of African students also held a protest at Jantar Mantar here, holding aloft placards that read ‘Racism Ruins Lives’, and demanded that the Indian government act swiftly to stop attacks on the community.

The spate of rising attacks on African nationals has caused outrage among the community, several thousands of who study in India. The African envoys had last week threatened to boycott the Africa Day event over the murder of Olivier.

The Indian government stepped in to assure the African envoys of the safety and security of their nationals after which the envoys attended the May 26 event.

Sushma Swaraj is personally monitoring the outreach to the Africans.

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