Police in Delhi said Sunday they had arrested five people over attacks on Africans in the city, as authorities promise tougher measures to ensure their safety in the Indian capital.
The victims, most of whom are from Nigeria, were targeted in three separate incidents in south Delhi's Mehrauli area on Thursday night. Two of them told local media they were beaten with sticks and cricket bats.
South Delhi police chief Ishwar Singh denied the attacks were racist in nature and said only one African was injured.
"Two of the incidents were scuffles, after locals raised objections to their playing loud music and drinking in public places at night. These were essentially altercations between locals and Africans," Singh said.
"We have arrested five locals for criminal intimidation and assault, another two to three would be arrested soon."
African residents told Indian news channels that they were racially abused and attacked by mobs. A Nigerian national, Leuchy, 32, who uses only one name, told broadcaster NDTV that he was on way to a nearby church in an auto-rickshaw when a group of locals stopped it midway and attacked him.
"They attacked me with (cricket) bats and a stone, which caused a deep injury on my nose among other wounds. They kept thrashing me as I screamed for help asking them why they were doing so," he said.
The attacks follow the murder of Congolese student Masonda Ketada Olivier last Saturday in New Delhi. He was beaten to death after an argument over hiring an autorickshaw. Two suspects were subsequently arrested.
Condemning the incident, Federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh ordered Delhi Police to increase patrolling in Mehrauli where around 300 Africans live.
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj also said a "sensitization campaign" will be launched in areas where African nationals reside.
A group of African envoys strongly protested the Congolese student's killing, saying the murder was the latest in the series of racially motivated attacks on members of their community.
They urged Delhi take urgent steps to guarantee the safety of Africans in India, including initiating "appropriate programmes of public awareness that will address the problem of racism and Afro-phobia in India."
African students plan to hold a demonstration in Delhi on Tuesday to protest the attacks.
Attacks on Africans have been reported at regular intervals in recent years. In February, a female Tanzanian student was attacked and partially stripped by a mob in Bangalore city.