Envoy to NZ recalled

Domestic help accuses wife of assault

Envoy to NZ recalled

Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand Ravi Thapar has been “posted back” to the headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) here, after his wife was accused of assaulting a domestic help at their residence in Wellington.

The domestic help has reportedly told the New Zealand police that he had been “kept in slavery” and that the high commissioner had also threatened him. The Indian government conducted a preliminary probe into the allegations and has promised to “investigate the matter further”.

Thapar told the media in Wellington on Saturday that he was leaving New Zealand because he wanted to take care of his mother who lives in India.

He denied allegations and said his wife, Sharmila, was an “experienced diplomatic spouse” incapable of assaulting an “able-bodied man”.

“I am going, but to take care of my mum because my dad passed away last year. I cannot keep up from 13,000 km away just talking to her on the phone,” The New Zealand Herald quoted Thapar as saying.

The domestic help, referred to as service staff member by the MEA, went missing on May 10. He was later found in a “distressed state” nearly 20 km away from the Indian High Commission by a local resident who took him to a police station. He had to spend several nights in a night shelter in Wellington, according to reports in the New Zealand media.

The man, who worked in the kitchen at the envoy’s official residence, spoke to the police through an interpreter and said that he was assaulted by Thapar’s wife. He, however, did not lodge a complaint.

The MEA claimed that the High Commission had informed the New Zealand Police and Foreign Office of the New Zealand government immediately after the staff member went missing.
“The ministry takes all such cases very seriously. A team was deputed from headquarters to New Zealand to ascertain the facts and conduct an independent inquiry. The team also facilitated the staff member’s return. He returned on May 28,” said Vikas Swarup, MEA spokesperson. 

Thapar, a 1983 batch Indian Foreign Service officer, is not the first diplomat to get embroiled in a controversy for exploiting a domestic help.

Devyani Khobragade, Neena Malhotra and Prabhu Dayal are the other diplomats who have been accused of exploiting their domestic helps hired from India.

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