June 22, 2011

Government unhappy with US response to troubles of Indian diplomats

TNN | Jun 23, 2011, 02.39am IST


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The foreign ministry has trashed the charges levelled by a domestic help against its envoy in New York Prabhu Dayal as “motivated and baseless”.

NEW DELHI: Reacting to the forced labour suit brought against Indian consul general in New YorkPrabhu Dayal, the government here protested against what it called the targeting of the country's diplomats in the US, subtly cautioning that it could sour public opinion and have repercussions for ties.

Trashing as "motivated and baseless" the charge that Dayal forced his Indian domestic help to work like a slave, the foreign ministry said, "We are disappointed and deeply concerned that Indian diplomats and their family members should be targeted in such a manner in a friendly country like the US."

It added, "Such actions impede the ability of the individuals in question to discharge their official responsibilities as well as cause untold mental harassment and anguish. These incidents cannot be dismissed lightly."

Sounding a subtle note of caution, the ministry said, "The treatment being meted out to Indian diplomats or their family members has resulted in negative public perceptions in India with attendant implications."

While the suit against Dayal, described by the ministry as "a senior diplomat of impeccable personal and professional integrity", has been filed in a Manhattan federal court, the strong statement is seen as reflecting the assessment of the government that US authorities have not been helpful to the diplomats facing harassment. In an earlier instance, Krittika Biswas, daughter of an Indian diplomat in New York, was imprisoned for a day on a charge which was found to be baseless.

The government is appreciative of the fact that US judiciary is fiercely independent and brooks little interference from the executive, but its grouse is that US government's approach on such issues has been excessively legalistic and does not take into account the needs and privileges diplomats have.

Krishna Bharadwaj, Dayal's domestic assistant, has accused the diplomat of treating her like a slaveand harassing her sexually.

Refuting the charge in his communication to the government here, Dayal pointed out that Bharadwaj had worked for him in Morocco when he was posted as India's ambassador. She "willingly and voluntarily" accompanied the diplomat when he moved to New York in February 2009 to take up his current assignment.

Dayal also pointed out that Bharadwaj was paid as per the arrangement with her – Rs 14,000 per month was credited into her bank account in India while the rest of the amount was paid to her in US dollars in cash.

Dayal said Bharadwaj disappeared in the US when he wanted to relieve her, and concocted the charge when he moved for the revocation of her official passport.

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