The West Nile regional director for the Uganda Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ullas Bhatt, has urged Asian communities throughout the country to register with the authorities and to formalize their businesses in order to avoid racist clashes.
Bhatt, himself and Indian national, condemns the riots in Kampala on Thursday in which several Asians were attacked by mobs. He says it was harsh and meaningless violence against innocent people.
Bhatt however accuses some Indian communities countrywide for flaunting the law and allowing illegal immigrants to settle amongst them. He observes that the increased illegal entry of Asian immigrants into Uganda and stiff business competition may have been the basis of the unexpected anger towards Indian traders in Kampala.
Bhatt wants leaders elected at district level to represent the Asian communities in order to streamline their operations.
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The normalization of their migration to Uganda is the last thing on the minds of the Indian community in Masaka.
The small community of about 20 families was alarmed by reports of the riots in Kampala in which one Indian man was killed and several others beaten up. They are largely keeping to themselves as they wait for the concern about the riots to blow over.
Devang Nayee the Manager of Bidco oil Products Stores in Masaka, says Indians in the district do not support the giveaway of Mabira Forest, which was the cause of the race riots. An employee of Britannia industries in Masaka who refuses to be identified, says the Mehta Family that is behind the Mabira giveaway is a small group of rich people, whose actions should not be counted against ordinary Indians.
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The speaker of Masaka Municipal Council, Dennis Majwala, says the Indian families in the district are fairly well assimilated in the local community. A majority of them are involved in the entertainment, transport and hospitality industries in Masaka.
On the other side of the country, the relative ease with which members of the Indian community spoke to the media was not replicated in Soroti.
A Uganda Radio Network reporter in the area says the 200-strong Asian community is wary following the race riots. Many of those contacted declined to comment on the incident insisting that they are under strict instructions from the chairperson of the Asian community not to speak to journalists on the matter.
When approached for an official comment, Nikita Gumal, the chairperson of the Asian community declined to comment without giving reasons for his silence.
Soroti has one of the largest Asian communities in eastern Uganda outside Jinja town.