NEW DELHI, Mar. 16: Making an impactful comeback on her first day in Parliament since undergoing kidney transplant in December, external affairs minister of India Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday dismissed Congressman Mallikarjun Kharge's charge that the Centre was silent on hate attacks against Indians in the US and said the issue had been taken up with the US government at "very high levels".
"That we've been silent on the attacks is far from reality. That is not how this government works. In fact, even if one Indian living abroad is aggrieved, we try and solve his problem within 24 hours.
The government is committed to ensuring the safety and security of the Indian diaspora," said Swaraj, showing flashes of the oratorial skills she is well known for.
Making a detailed statement in Lok Sabha on the recent attacks against Indians in the US — which killed engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas and Harnish Patel in South Carolina, apart from injuring Deep Rai in Kent, Washington state, and Ashok Madasani (in the Kansas incident) — Swaraj cited the separate statements by US President Trump, Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, Kansas governor Sam Brownback and secretary of homeland security John Kellycondemning the incidents as well as ongoing investigation by agencies including the FBI to highlight the "prompt and clear response of the US political leadership and the law enforcement authorities".
"The widespread messages of sympathy and support from all quarters in the US give us confidence that these incidents are acts of individuals and do not represent the overwhelming sentiments of the American people towards India," she said.
Congratulating Swaraj, who was received at the Parliament entrance by 5-6 party MPs including Yogi Adityanath and Uma Bharati, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she was happy to hear her "powerful voice" once again in LS.
This drew applause from both the treasury and opposition benches, with MPs cutting across party lines walking up to Swaraj's desk to greet her and inquire about her health.
Dressed in a crisp green silk saree and with Bharati by her side, Swaraj kept standing through her 15-minute speech, seamlessly switching between reading from a prepared text and making extempore observations, stopping only to take sips of water.
Stating that safety and security of the Indian diaspora was a top priority of the Modi government, she said, "The PM was busy with campaigning when these incidents occurred but made it a point to ask the MEA every single day what it was doing. I personally oversaw the MEA's response while still recuperating from my medical condition."
Explaining how she was clued in to happenings related to her ministry in Parliament, Swaraj said she had watched the entire debate on the racial attacks in the US on TV.(TOI)
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