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.
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 VK 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. VK Singh, meanwhile, claimed that the attack on African nationals was a "minor scuffle" which the media was "blowing up" and questioned its motives.
"Had detailed discussion with Delhi Police and found that media blowing up minor scuffle as attack on African nationals in Rajpur Khurd," the MoS for External Affairs tweeted.
"Why is media doing this? As responsible citizens let us question them and their motives," he said.
Separately, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said government will transport back home the mortal remains of Congolese youth Masunda Kitanda Oliver who was killed earlier this month in a south Delhi area.
"In the unfortunate death of Mr Masunda Oliver, the Government will assist his family to travel to India to receive his mortal remains. We will also arrange for his mortal remains to be transported to DR Congo at our expense," he said.
Envoys of African countries on Thursday had expressed shock over killing of Oliver here last week following which India assured them of safety of African nationals.
Regarding the latest incidents, police said these were isolated incidents and nothing like "organised attacks".
Since yesterday police has held several meetings with various resident associations in the area.
Addressing one such gathering, DCP Ishwar said, "they have come to our country, they are our guests and friends. They have come here just because they trust us.
"The way you behave with them will have repercussions on our brothers living outside. An example is the way Indians were attacked after the murder of a Congolese youth," he said.