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India puts its diplomats, officials under scanner

India puts its diplomats, officials under scanner

NEW DELHI: Faced with embarrassing reports about its officials posted in diplomatics missions abroad, the Indian government is taking action with regard to a slew of complaints, reports said on Sunday.

The recall of India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Ravi Thapar following accusations of his wife assaulting a domestic help has brought the focus back on the conduct of the country’s diplomats posted abroad.

Press Trust of India spoke of complaints against 43 officials of Indian diplomatic missions in 17 countries who are facing a variety of charges including corruption and dereliction of duty. “Action is being taken in all 43 cases as per established procedure,” spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup was quoted as saying.

“The ministry takes seriously any complaint that it receives about the performance of its missions and posts abroad. Complaints are dealt with as per established and prescribed procedures,” Swarup told PTI from Bangkok where he is accompanying External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

PTI cited six complaints against officials in Indian missions that were received in 2012, 10 in 2013 and 27 in 2014.

A maximum of eight complaints each have been received from the missions in UK and Madagascar in the last three years.

Complaints have also been received against Indian Embassy staff in Afghanistan, Austria, Canada, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Botswana, Thailand, Zambia, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands, South Africa and Mali.

Two complaints were received from UK in 2012, one in 2013 and five last year.

A chef at the Indian High Commission in New Zealand had last month alleged he was kept in slavery and was assaulted by Sharmila Thapar, wife of Ravi Thapar, following which the External Affairs Ministry sent a team to conduct an inquiry, PTI said.

The High Commissioner was recalled based on the inquiry report. India’s New Zealand mission has attracted adverse publicity in the past. In a major embarrassment for Delhi, a woman diplomat in New York was charged with visa fraud and under-paying her Indian staff. The incident soured relations between the two countries.

Further inquiries in the New Zealand incident will be conducted, Mr Swarup said. Mr Thapar, however, was quoted as denying that any staff member had been assaulted by his wife and said he was returning to India to take care of his mother.

“Though no charges were pressed by the service staff member, the Ministry will investigate the matter further. The High Commissioner has been posted back to Headquarters,” Mr Swarup was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2015

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