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India condemns alleged Racial Attack on Nigerian Students who were brutally beaten up in Greater Noida

The attacks took place after protests over the death of Manish Khatri, a Class 12 student in Greater Noida's NSG Society

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African students participate in a protest against the alleged assault of Tanzanian woman in Bangalore, India, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Earlier this week police arrested four Indian men for allegedly assaulting and stripping a female Tanzanian student after dragging her out of a car in Bangalore, India's information technology hub. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi) (Representational Image), VOA

Noida, March 28, 2017: India on Tuesday condemned an alleged racial attack on Nigerian students who were brutally beaten up in Greater Noida by mobs targeting African nationals blaming them for drug running following the death of a teen due to suspected drug overdose.

Apprehending a diplomatic row over the attack near the national capital, the External Affairs Ministry assured of an impartial probe and said India was committed to the safety of foreigners in the country.

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she had spoken to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Aditya Nath Yogi, and he had assured her of a “fair and impartial investigation into this unfortunate incident”.

According to police in Greater Noida, some 40 km from Delhi, late on Monday night four Nigerian students were attacked by crowds near Pari Chowk while two more were beaten by a mob inside a shopping mall.

The attacks took place after protests over the death of Manish Khatri, a Class 12 student in Greater Noida’s NSG Society, Superintendent of Police Sujata Singh told IANS.

Khatri is said to have died of cardiac arrest due to suspected drug overdose on Saturday.

Singh said three FIRs had been registered.

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Five suspects were arrested and over 1,000 unknown people have been booked, police officer Avinish Dixit in Greater Noida told IANS.

Dixit said police had received a complaint from an association of Nigerian residents in Greater Noida.

Atul Saxena, store manager at Levi’s outlet in Ansal Plaza where one of the attacks occurred, said two Nigerians shopping in the mall rushed into the store, closed the door and pleaded with him to save them from the mob.

“After them, some 100 or 150 people forced open the door and barged in. They beat one of the Nigerians and dragged him out. The other had hid himself in a trial room. He too was dragged out and beaten up,” Saxena told IANS.

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The store manager said the Nigerians were beaten up by leather belts available in the store. “Some among the mob ransacked the shop and lifted goods too.”

The two assaulted Nigerians — Endurance Amarawa, 21, and Precious Amalcima, 24 — were taken to a hospital with facial injuries and minor fractures but doctors have ruled them out of danger.

“We were shopping in Ansal Plaza on Monday evening when suddenly a mob attacked us viciously. We tried to enter a showroom to save ourselves,” Precious Amalcima, who is doing political science from Noida International University (NIU), told reporters at the hospital.

Endurance is a first year BA-LLB student at the university.

A video shared online by the Association of African Students in India shows a mob beating, kicking and punching an African man repeatedly inside the mall. Some among the mob carried sticks, stools and trash cans to beat the man in the video which couldn’t be verified independently.

MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay termed the incident “deplorable”.

Baglay said Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar spoke to Nigeria’s Acting High Commissioner and assured him of steps being taken for the safety and security of Nigerian nationals.

“The government is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all foreigners in India. People from Africa, including students and youths, remain our valued partners,” Baglay added.

In Gautambudh Nagar, District Magistrate N.P. Singh held a “peace meeting” with some Nigerians, police and civil officials, local resident welfare associations, students and representatives of colleges and universities of the area.

Singh, according to a statement, assured that the administration was committed to the safety of foreign students and said that the incidents had “blemished the image of India where thousands of foreign students come to study”.

“They are our guests and we should respect them. It part of our culture.” (IANS)

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India-Pakistan Ties: India Grants Medical Visa to another Pakistani National

The action was termed "highly regrettable" by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

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Sushma swaraj addressing a press conference. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 10, 2017 : India on Friday issued a medical visa to another Pakistani national following a promise made by the Ministry of External Affairs on Independence Day.

“Amna – We have approved medical visa for your father Mr Shamim Ahmed,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted in response to a request from one Amna Shamim through the Twitter handle of Karachi’s Muhammad Talha.

Shamim also posted a reference letter dated October 9 from a doctor in Sri Ganga Ram Hospital who stated that the patient was being considered for a liver transplant.

On Independence Day, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had announced that India would provide medical visas to all bonafide Pakistani patients.

As ties between the two countries soured over various issues, the ministry had announced in May that only a letter of recommendation by then Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz would enable a Pakistani national to get a medical visa for India.

The action was termed “highly regrettable” by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

However, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for liver tumour, was given a visa on July 18.

Sushma Swaraj then said that he needed no recommendation from the Pakistani government for a medical visa because the territory “is an integral part of India”.

Since August 15, however, Pakistani nationals seeking medical treatment have not been denied visas. (IANS)

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Myanmar Must Take Back Displaced Rohingya Refugees : India

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state

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A group of Rohingya refugees walk on the muddy road after traveling over the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. VOA

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India on Sunday said Rohingya refugees who have poured into Bangladesh must be taken back by Myanmar from where they have been displaced.

“Normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a media meet also attended by her Bangladeshi counterpart Abula Hassan Mahmood Ali.

This followed the fourth India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee meeting.

ALSO READ US will Provide $32 Million to Rohingyas As Humanitarian Aid Package

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state, bdnews24.com reported.

She said India was “deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Rakhine state of Myanmar”.

According to latest figures from the UN office in Bangladesh, over 600,000 refugees have entered the country since August 25 after the Myanmar Army cracked down on the Rohingyas after a series of attacks on security personnel in Rakhine.

Bangladesh Minister Ali said India was urged to contribute towards exerting sustained pressure on Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, including return of Rohingyas to their homeland. (IANS)

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US Opioid Crisis : Deaths in 2016 from Drug Overdose ‘Highest in American History’, Says US Attorney General

Sessions said President Donald Trump's campaign pledge to end the opioid crisis remains a priority for his administration

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A bag of 4-fluoroisobutyrylfentanyl, which was seized in a drug arrest, is displayed at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Testing and Research Laboratory in Sterling, Va., Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)(VOA)

Washington, September 22, 2017 : U.S. deaths from drug overdose set a record of more than 64,000 in 2016, driven by an intractable opioid crisis, U.S. Attorney General said Thursday, citing preliminary government data.

Provisional data released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) showed that there were 64,070 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016, up 21 percent from 52,898 the year before.

The NCHS is an arm of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2016 estimate “would be the highest drug death toll and the fastest increase in that death toll in American history,” Sessions said. “And every day this crisis continues to grow, as more than 5,000 Americans abuse painkillers for the first time.”

Opioids such as heroin and the synthetic drug fentanyl were responsible for most of the fatal overdoses, killing more than 33,000 Americans — quadruple the number from 20 years ago.

drug overdose
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington (VOA)

“More Americans died of drug overdose than died from car crashes or died from AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic,” Sessions said. “For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death.”

Sessions spoke at an event in Charleston, West Virginia, a state with the highest drug overdose rate in the country. In 2015, West Virginia reported more than 41 overdose deaths per 100,000 people, compared with a national average of 16 per 100,000, according to NCHS data.

Sessions said President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to end the opioid crisis remains a priority for his administration.

“I believe that the department’s new resources and new efforts will bring more criminals to justice, and ultimately save lives,” Sessions said. “And I’m convinced this is a winnable war.”

In March, Trump named New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former presidential candidate, to head the newly formed President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

Last month, the commission urged the administration to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency.

“With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” the commission said in an interim report.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said that no declaration was necessary to combat the crisis, but White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said Trump was taking the idea “absolutely seriously.” (VOA)