India Business
Indian's death in Uganda an aberration: Ugandan minister
May 4, 2007 - 4:46:56 PM

New Delhi, May 4 - The recent death of an Indian in a riot in Uganda is an 'aberration' in what is otherwise a very peaceful country and harmonious society, according to a visiting Ugandan delegation.

'We are happy that the Asian community in Uganda - are doing very good. The death of that person is an aberration and it does not at all reflect the real Uganda,' Uganda's Minister for Internal Affairs Ruhakana Rugunda, who is leading the delegation, said at an interactive session with potential investors organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry - here Friday.

Devand Rawal, hailing from Ahmedabad and working in a private firm in Uganda, was stoned to death April 12 by a mob that was protesting the move by The Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited -, part of the Indian-owned Mehta group, to expand its sugar estates by cutting the Mabira rain forest - one of Uganda's last remaining patches of natural forest. It has been a nature reserve since 1932.

'Apart from building further the already excellent ties between India and Uganda, we are also here to personally convey our condolences to the family of the victim,' the minister said.

The Ugandan government has announced a compensation of 18 million Ugandan shillings to the family of Rawal.

Earlier in the day, the delegation called on Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi to convey the condolences of the people and government of Uganda for Rawal's death.

'We had an excellent meeting with minister Ravi. We conveyed to him our condolences and assured him that we will take all confidence building measures for the Indian community in Uganda,' Rugunda said.

Stating that Rawal's death was a one-off incident, Sanjiv Patel of the Indian Association of Uganda, who is also a member of the delegation, said that Uganda has been completely peaceful for the past 20 years and all communities - Ugandans of Indian origin and indigenous Ugandans - have been living harmoniously.

'Ever since President - Museveni and his NRM - came to power in 1986, Uganda has been completely peaceful. And Indians doing business there have been very successful,' he said.

'Look at all the NRIs - who have come and flourished in Uganda,' Patel, a third generation Ugandan of Indian origin, said.

Calling upon investors not to be swayed by the Rawal incident, he said, 'We are there to help you. You don't have to be worried. The Indian Association is always there.'

Sanjay Tanna, an Ugandan of Indian origin who is also a member of parliament in that country, said that the east African country has changed drastically for the better since the NRM government came to power.

'And Ugandans are the most generous people in the whole of Africa. Indigenous Ugandans are happy when Asians do well, because they also benefit. Look at me. I have been elected from an area that has primarily indigenous Ugandan people,' he said.

Asians, mostly Indians, have been the most affected lot in the volatile politics of Uganda prior to Museveni's ascent to power.

During Idi Amin's despotic rule in the seventies, 75,000 Asians were expelled from that country without being allowed to take their assets with them.

After Idi Amin's rule, the country has seen wars with neighbouring countries and military coups.

Today, there are around 17,000 Indians and most of them are NRIs who had gone there for work or business. Ugandans of Indian origin number only around 2,500.

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