Archive for India
Suicide bombers detonated an explosives-packed car near the Indian consulate in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Saturday morning, officials said, killing at least three civilians. “A car containing explosives hit a barrier near the consulate and detonated,” Ahmadzia Abdulzai, Nangarhar province spokesman, said, saying that surrounding shops had been badly damaged in the blast. “Three civilians were killed and about 20 were wounded. There were three suicide bombers in the car.”
An 18-year-old youth allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling inside the Kenyan embassy in Vasant Kunj on Friday. A police official said they received a call about the incident at around 11 am. The deceased, identified as Ashok, was found hanging in the staff servant quarters in the embassy, the police said. “His father works as a cook in embassy. He said that Ashok went to sleep in his room after dinner on Thursday night. On Friday morning, they found him hanging from the ceiling. We have not recovered any suicide note and the reason behind his extreme step is yet to be ascertained,” said the police official.
India will raise with Washington what it called serious allegations that the United States “intrusively monitored” the Indian embassy there, the foreign ministry said. The Guardian newspaper reported late on Sunday that the United States spied on 38 diplomatic missions, including American allies such as India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Turkey as well as the French, Italian and Greek embassies. “We have seen and studied media reports of our embassy in Washington being among a list of diplomatic missions which were intrusively monitored by U.S. agencies,” said Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman for the foreign ministry. “Obviously, we are concerned at such disconcerting reports and we will certainly raise with U.S. authorities these serious allegations,” he told reporters.
Ms Sujatha Singh, presently India’s Ambassador to Germany, will be the next Foreign Secretary of the country with a term of two years. An official press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said Ms Singh, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1976 batch, would assume charge on August 1, succeeding Mr Ranjan Mathai on his retirement. She will be the third woman to hold the prestigious post after Ms Chokila Iyer, who served as Foreign Secretary from March 2001 to June 2002 and Ms Nirupama Rao, who held the position from August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2011. She served as the High Commissioner of India in Australia during 2007-2012, during which there were violent attacks in that country on Indian students in 2009-10 and she is credited with helping the two countries tide over that crisis. Later, she was Joint Secretary and then Additional Secretary responsible for West Europe and the EU in the Ministry of External Affairs. She presented her credentials as Ambassador to Germany on March 9 last year.
A year after Rajesh Nandan Prasad was appointed India’s envoy to Switzerland, the senior diplomat is finally packing his bags to leave New Delhi, albeit not for Bern, but Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands. Prasad, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1980 batch, was appointed India’s ambassador to Switzerland in June 2012. He was supposed to succeed Chitra Narayanan. He, however, had to wait in New Delhi for about a year, as Narayanan, who happens to be the daughter of former president K R Narayanan, was given an unusual extension for medical reasons. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) took about a year to find an alternative position for Prasad. This week, he was finally appointed India’s envoy to the Netherlands. Prasad was the Indian deputy high commissioner in London till June 2012, when he was selected to succeed Narayanan, an IFS officer of the 1978 batch. He was about to leave for the Swiss capital Bern when the MEA asked him to return to New Delhi. The government then granted Narayanan an extension till the end of 2012 so that she could continue her treatment in Switzerland. She was subsequently given another extension for about a year. The government’s decision to give extensions to Narayanan on medical grounds created a flutter in the MEA. The ambassadors are sometimes given extensions for various reasons. But, according to some officials, extension on medical grounds was rather unusual in the country’s diplomatic service.
More than two months after a Swiss tourist was allegedly gangraped in Madhya Pradesh, a judicial commission, in a rare gesture, visited the country’s embassy in New Delhi last week to record the victim’s statement. The 38-year-old woman also answered questions from lawyers in the case through video-conference. The woman had left India after the alleged crime on March 16 but returned last month to record her statement. The woman was on her way to Agra from Orchha on a bicycle tour with her companion when the incident occurred. The couple were camping in the open near a forest area when about half-a-dozen armed men allegedly gangraped her, manhandled her companion and robbed them of their valuables. “In accordance with the orders of the special court in Datia, where the trial is pending, a judicial commission headed by a metropolitan magistrate recorded the statements of the victims in New Delhi on May 28,” a Swiss embassy spokesperson said. “The victims have now left India after participating in the necessary legal procedures. The judicial commission was set up on the request of the victims who want to cooperate in the pursuit of justice but are traumatised to travel back to the place of crime,” the spokesperson said, adding that the victims are “committed to pursue the case and have faith that the Indian judicial system will deliver justice”. The Datia police have filed a chargesheet against six men in a local court. The trial began on March 30.
Three blasts occured near Indian Embassy in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul. The multiple explosions took place in Central Kabul. Intense gun battle is going on between the attackers and the security forces. Reports suggest that it was a well-co-ordinated attack as the insurgents were had targetted the Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry. The Indian Embassy is close to the Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry.
India started verification and issuance of emergency certificates allowing its citizens to leave Saudi Arabia following concerns over a new labour policy in the Gulf Kingdom. The schedule currently announced is for the delivery of the first batch of 12,000 emergency certificate applications received at Indian embassy in Riyadh and nearly 3,000 in Saudi’s Eastern Province. There has been a rush for the emergency travel documents with about 60,000 applicants looking for one, amid concerns about possible job losses after the new ‘Nitaqat’ labour law comes into effect. The ‘Nitaqat’ law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers. There has been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians working there. Over two million Indians are currently working in Saudi Arabia. More than 200,000 foreigners have been deported from the country over the past few months as part of labour market reforms aimed at putting more Saudi nationals into private sector jobs, where they now make up only a tenth of the workforce.
Security has been beefed up outside Pakistan embassy in New Delhi, following the death of Indian prisoner, Sarabjit Singh. Political parties in India have been criticizing the Government of India for not taking adequate steps to get Sarabjit Singh back. Sarabjit Singh, who was brutally beaten in a Lahore jail, succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Lahore in the early hours of Thursday. Convicted of spying and carrying out multiple blasts in Pakistan, Sarabjit Singh was hospitalised with a serious head injury, after two fellow prisoners attacked him in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore on April 26. Following the report of the death of Sarabjit Singh in the Lahore hospital, The police cordoned off the area outside the Pakistan embassy here and rapid action force personnel stand guard to avert any untoward incident. The Indian government had been urging Pakistan to allow Sarabjit to be brought back to India for advanced medical treatment, but a panel of doctors in Pakistan said that Sarabjit was getting the ‘best treatment’. Singh was arrested in Pakistan in 1991 and sentenced to death for spying and carrying out four bomb blasts that killed 14 people. His family says he is innocent. In 2008, the then President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf stayed the execution of Sarabjit Singh after appeals for clemency from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao has sought a generous American visa policy for high-skilled workers from India saying it would help both countries to come out winners. As US policymakers move forward with efforts to reform the immigration system, “we respectfully urge that they consider the impact of their decisions on the ability of both US and foreign-based companies to expand now and in the future,” she wrote in an opinion piece in the USA Today. “The inspirational history of economic synergy between our two nations should serve as our guide to the future,” Rao wrote adding, “A generous visa policy for highly skilled workers would help everyone; both nations would come out winners.” Taking on critics who have suggested restricting access for Indian companies to certain types of high-skilled worker visas (H-1B and L-1), she said information technology services would be disadvantaged by such changes in US immigration laws. “Today, Indian-based IT service providers employ well over 50,000 US citizens and recruit and hire more each year,” Rao noted. The industry supports more than 280,000 other local US hires and aids many US-based companies in developing new products and improving operations and efficiencies, she wrote. “This, in turn, helps them both preserve and create jobs here in the US.”