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Indian High Commissioner to leave NZ amid slavery accusations

Donatello

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The High Commissioner for India is set to leave New Zealand after claims his wife assaulted a "slave" who worked in their kitchen.

It is understood India has formally recalled High Commissioner Ravi Thapar. A moving van arrived at his $1.1 million Lower Hutt residence on Saturday morning after allegations emerged of domestic abuse against the worker.

Both Thapar and his wife, Sharmila, have declined to be interviewed by police and have barred other members of the mission from speaking to authorities. Sharmila Thapar refused to answer questions at the house on Saturday morning.

The worker, believed to be a chef, walked nearly 20km from the High Commissioner's house to Wellington one night where he was found by a member of the public in a distressed state.

He was taken to a police station and ended up staying several nights at the Wellington Night Shelter.

Through an interpreter, he alleged he was kept in slavery. He said he was physically assaulted by Sharmila Thapar and threatened with assault by Ravi Thapar. But he did notmake a formal complaint and wanted to return to India.

Government sources confirmed the incident, saying the allegations were directed at both the High Commissioner and his wife.

The police have decided not to press charges because the worker declined to lay a formal complaint, a source said.

"The alleged victim has gone home and the arrangements that the Indian government are for them to answer for, but we've been told they are taking their guy home."

A Government source confirmed that the couple has been accused of keeping the man as a slave, but that had not been confirmed by police. "The allegation the police were looking into was physical ill treatment."

The police contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), which alerted India's Ministry of External Affairs.

An MFAT spokeswoman said they were aware the Indian High Commissioner was departing and said questions about his departure should be addressed to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

"MFAT was aware a staff member raised with New Zealand police concerns about his treatment in the High Commission.

"MFAT has been advised the individual concerned elected not to take the matter further. That staff member had independent legal representation and decided to return to India."

It's understood an official from India came to New Zealand to deal with the situation and the staff member left on May 28.

A neighbour who did not want to be named said they were shocked by the allegations.

"I thought she was a very nice person. She was very kind and very giving."

The neighbour recalled a previous houseboy at the residence who had returned home to India before being replaced by the domestic servant at the centre of the allegations.

"He was extremely shy and couldn't speak English."

Source:
Indian High Commissioner to leave NZ amid slavery accusations | Stuff.co.nz

Oh no, not again.....!!
 

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The High Commissioner for India is set to leave New Zealand after claims his wife assaulted a "slave" who worked in their kitchen.

It is understood India has formally recalled High Commissioner Ravi Thapar. A moving van arrived at his $1.1 million Lower Hutt residence on Saturday morning after allegations emerged of domestic abuse against the worker.

Both Thapar and his wife, Sharmila, have declined to be interviewed by police and have barred other members of the mission from speaking to authorities. Sharmila Thapar refused to answer questions at the house on Saturday morning.

The worker, believed to be a chef, walked nearly 20km from the High Commissioner's house to Wellington one night where he was found by a member of the public in a distressed state.

He was taken to a police station and ended up staying several nights at the Wellington Night Shelter.

Through an interpreter, he alleged he was kept in slavery. He said he was physically assaulted by Sharmila Thapar and threatened with assault by Ravi Thapar. But he did notmake a formal complaint and wanted to return to India.

Government sources confirmed the incident, saying the allegations were directed at both the High Commissioner and his wife.

The police have decided not to press charges because the worker declined to lay a formal complaint, a source said.

"The alleged victim has gone home and the arrangements that the Indian government are for them to answer for, but we've been told they are taking their guy home."

A Government source confirmed that the couple has been accused of keeping the man as a slave, but that had not been confirmed by police. "The allegation the police were looking into was physical ill treatment."

The police contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), which alerted India's Ministry of External Affairs.

An MFAT spokeswoman said they were aware the Indian High Commissioner was departing and said questions about his departure should be addressed to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

"MFAT was aware a staff member raised with New Zealand police concerns about his treatment in the High Commission.

"MFAT has been advised the individual concerned elected not to take the matter further. That staff member had independent legal representation and decided to return to India."

It's understood an official from India came to New Zealand to deal with the situation and the staff member left on May 28.

A neighbour who did not want to be named said they were shocked by the allegations.

"I thought she was a very nice person. She was very kind and very giving."

The neighbour recalled a previous houseboy at the residence who had returned home to India before being replaced by the domestic servant at the centre of the allegations.

"He was extremely shy and couldn't speak English."

Source:
Indian High Commissioner to leave NZ amid slavery accusations | Stuff.co.nz

Oh no, not again.....!!

Not a cool story but a sad one :(...
 

coffee_cup

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[..] "his wife assaulted a "slave" who worked in their kitchen"

How did they manage to have slaves at Indian diplomatic mission in New Zealand?

Didn't something similar happen in America a little while ago?
 

ArsalanKhan21

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The people South Asian have mentality to treat their servants as slaves. The Hindutva says there was no slavery in ancient India but the low caste people were treated and lived like slaves.The Indians have this problem in US and Canada too. The Indian diplomats have been doing it for long time.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/10/n...sehold-staff-are-far-from-the-first.html?_r=0

N.Y. / Region
Claim Against Indian Diplomat Has Echoes of Previous Cases
By BENJAMIN WEISER and VIVIAN YEEJAN. 9, 2014

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Demonstrators near the Consulate General of India in Manhattan last month protested the treatment of domestic workers. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Sangeeta Richard, the housekeeper whose accusations of employer mistreatment led to the arrest of India’s deputy consul general in New York and an international furor, is not the first domestic worker to take issue with a diplomat who hired her.

About 20 domestic-worker trafficking lawsuits have been filed against diplomats and other foreign officials in the United States in the past decade in federal courts in New York, Virginia, the District of Columbia and elsewhere, a legal advocacy group says.

The employers have been accused of forcing their maids to work long hours at little or no pay, making them sleep on floors, shouting at them or threatening violence and other mistreatment, court records show. The diplomats were from Kuwait, the Philippines, Tanzania and other countries. Indian diplomats were accused in two suits in New York.

There have also been several criminal cases.


In 2012, for example, Somduth Soborun, the ambassador to the United States from Mauritius, pleaded guilty in Newark to failing to pay the minimum wage to a Filipino housekeeper for whom he had obtained a visa, according to federal prosecutors in New Jersey. Mr. Soborun was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $24,000 in restitution.

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Santosh Bhardwaj, who worked for Prabhu Dayal, right, then the consul general, said she was subjected to nearly a year of “forced labor and psychological coercion." Credit Law firm of Ravi Batra, via Associated Press, left; Seth Wenig/Associated Press
The lawsuits and criminal cases highlight an issue of growing concern: how foreign diplomats abuse their household help in the United States and flout this country’s labor laws, said Martina E. Vandenberg, president of the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center, an advocacy group that arranges free legal help. “These cases are the tip of the iceberg,” Ms. Vandenberg said.

Such cases are probably underreported, she and other experts said. Some workers may only rarely be allowed to leave the home or make contact with outsiders, or may have little knowledge of their rights. Employers may threaten to have a worker deported or to harm an employee’s relatives in their home country.

“Threatening the lives of loved ones overseas is a huge problem,” said Ivy Suriyopas, the director of the antitrafficking initiative at the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Dana Sussman, the lawyer with the victim services agency Safe Horizon who represents Ms. Richard, the housekeeper of the Indian diplomat, said: “We’ve seen the tendency to blame the victim in these cases, rather than focus attention on the individual accused of violating the law. This makes it all that much harder for victims to come forward.”

The charges in New York against Ms. Richard’s employer, Devyani Khobragade, caused public anger in India, where the news media focused on reports that she had been arrested outside her daughter’s school, and later strip-searched. On Thursday a grand jury indicted Ms. Khobragade on charges of visa fraud and making false statements, but she earlier had received diplomatic immunity and left the country Thursday night for India, her lawyer said.

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, whose office had been prosecuting Ms. Khobragade, said in a recent statement, “One wonders why there is so much outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian national accused of perpetrating these acts, but precious little outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian victim and her spouse.”

Reaction in India has been harsh not only toward the United States but also toward Ms. Richard. Some of that response may stem from the perception that even if she was underpaid, what she received far exceeded the amount most domestic workers make in India.

Elizabeth Keyes, an assistant professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, who has represented domestic workers, offered another perspective: Even where diplomats agree to pay their workers according to United States labor laws, “the diplomats sometimes aren’t paid enough to uphold those contracts.”

“These are elite folk getting prestigious and public-oriented jobs where they’re being expected to entertain and live a certain kind of lifestyle, and the domestic worker is a key part of making that happen,” she added.

It has been reported that Ms. Khobragade earned roughly $50,000 a year in her diplomatic position.

The two domestic workers who sued other Indian diplomats in New York claimed they had been forced to work extremely long hours for meager wages and subjected to threats and psychological coercion. Both said they were lured from India into their jobs in the United States through “false promises” of fair pay.

One plaintiff, Santosh Bhardwaj, said she signed a contract in 2009 to work for Prabhu Dayal, then the consul general, for $10 an hour. She was to work 40 hours a week and receive days off and overtime. “Mr. Dayal told Ms. Bhardwaj she would have a good life,” the lawsuit said.

But Ms. Bhardwaj said she was subjected to nearly a year of “forced labor and psychological coercion.” She was paid an average of $300 a month, the suit said, and often required to work longer than 12-hour days.

Mr. Dayal denied Ms. Bhardwaj’s claims, saying in court papers that Ms. Bhardwaj had her own apartment with a private bathroom, that she moved around freely and that she was fully paid for her work.

The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount, with no admission of wrongdoing.

The other plaintiff, Shanti Gurung, said she had been told to tell the United States Embassy that she would be paid $7 an hour, but received only about $120 during the more than three years she worked for a consulate officer, Neena Malhotra, and her husband at their residence on East 43rd Street.

Ms. Gurung said in the lawsuit that she was forced to work 16-hour days, to sleep on the living room floor and to give daily massages to Ms. Malhotra. She was often yelled at and was once even berated for eating a slice of bread without permission. She was allowed to leave the apartment alone only for chores, and one day in 2009, while the family was out, she fled to the home of a woman she had met while shopping for the defendants, her lawsuit said.

Ms. Malhotra and her husband, who had both left the United States, did not respond to the lawsuit, and in 2012 a judge entered a $1.46 million default judgment in favor of Ms. Gurung — an award that has never been paid, said Ms. Gurung’s lawyer, Amy Tai, of the Urban Justice Center.


Ms. Tai said her client was gratified that there was “a victory in her case,” even if it was just “a paper victory.”

Mr. Dayal, the former consul general who settled the lawsuit brought against him, raised questions in a recent article in The Mail Online about the motives of the Indian housekeepers who had accused their employers, including himself.

“The U.S. is a highly litigious country where suing people is sort of a favorite pastime,” Mr. Dayal wrote.

In the case that has spurred anger in India, prosecutors said Ms. Khobragade gave Ms. Richard a written contract in 2012 stating that she would be paid $9.75 an hour and work 40 hours a week.

But Ms. Khobragade later had her sign a second contract stating that she would be paid about $3.30 an hour, the complaint says. Ultimately, Ms. Richard said, she worked far more than 40 hours a week and was paid less than she had been promised.

Ms. Khobragade’s lawyer, Daniel N. Arshack, said that his client denied the charges and that a review of the facts “will reveal that Dr. Khobragade’s domestic worker received all of the pay to which she was entitled.”

In Jackson Heights, Queens, where Indian takeout shops and sari stores compete for space with other South Asian businesses, shopkeepers and passers-by acknowledged recently that if Ms. Khobragade had broken any law, she should face punishment. Nevertheless, they sympathized with her.

“She shouldn’t have done that,” said Sukhdev Bawa, the owner of Maharaja Quality Sweets and Snacks, but added: “She’s a diplomat — she’s not a regular person. What the police did to her — totally wrong.”

Several people seemed dismissive of Ms. Richard’s claims of having been underpaid and mistreated. Compared with maids in India, where competition for jobs is fierce and wages are minuscule, they noted, she was fortunate.

“These people are happy to have a job,” said Pulkit, the manager of Dosa Delight on 73rd Street, who would give only his first name. “They’re doing well compared to how they’re doing in their home country. Be thankful for what you have.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/10/nyregion/indian-diplomat-indicted-in-employment-case.html?_r=0

After Being Indicted, Diplomat Is Allowed to Leave the Country
By BENJAMIN WEISERJAN. 9, 2014

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The Consulate General of India on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where Ms. Khobragade had her office. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

The legal battle over an Indian diplomat whose recent arrest in New York caused an uproar in her home country took an unusual turn on Thursday when she was indicted by a federal grand jury in Manhattan but was then allowed to leave the United States.

The envoy, Devyani Khobragade, was granted diplomatic immunity on Wednesday by the State Department, which then asked India to waive the immunity so that she could be prosecuted. That request was refused.

The State Department then told her to leave the country. The diplomat left by plane for India on Thursday night, her lawyer said.

Ms. Khobragade, 39, was arrested on Dec. 12 on a criminal complaint charging her with visa fraud and making false statements in connection with her treatment of a domestic worker, Sangeeta Richard, who prosecutors said had been overworked and unpaid by Ms. Khobragade.


The indictment, handed up in Federal District Court in Manhattan, charges Ms. Khobragade with the same counts, but it also accuses her and others of trying to “silence and intimidate the victim and her family and lie to Indian authorities and courts.”

Photo
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Devyani Khobragade Credit Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia, via Reuters
The decision by Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, to seek the indictment indicated that negotiations to try to resolve the case through a plea bargain had broken down.

But the revelation that Ms. Khobragade had received immunity and had been told to leave the country suggested that a separate understanding had been reached with other United States officials with the goal of relaxing tensions with India.

Ms. Khobragade’s lawyer, Daniel N. Arshack, said his client was pleased that the State Department “did the right thing” by recognizing the diplomatic status “to which Dr. Khobragade has always been entitled.”

“She is pleased to be returning to her country,” he added. “Her head is held high. She knows she has done no wrong and she looks forward to assuring that the truth is known.”

Ms. Richard said in a statement issued through Safe Horizon, a victim services agency that had been representing her, “I would like to tell other domestic workers who are suffering as I did — you have rights and do not let anyone exploit you.”

The indictment accused Ms. Khobragade of illegally underpaying Ms. Richard and exploiting her. It said that the diplomat had confiscated Ms. Richard’s passport and never returned it. Ms. Richard worked about 94 to 109 hours a week, the indictment said, with limited breaks for calls and meals.

Last June, the indictment said, Ms. Richard visited Ms. Khobragade’s office at the Indian Consulate and said she was unhappy with the work conditions and wanted to return home. Ms. Khobragade refused the request and would not return her passport, the indictment says.

Later that month, Ms. Richard finally left and ultimately turned to Safe Horizon, which helps trafficking victims.

Almost immediately, Ms. Khobragade and others took steps to prevent her from communicating with lawyers and others, the government charged.

The indictment describes a series of efforts to intimidate Ms. Richard and her family. It says Ms. Khobragade and a relative repeatedly called Ms. Richard’s husband in India, pressuring him to disclose her location in New York. Ms. Khobragade also took legal action in India against Ms. Richard. In November, based on a complaint by Ms. Khobragade, an arrest warrant was issued in India charging Ms. Richard with extortion and cheating.

Mr. Arshack has called the charges against Ms. Khobragade “false and baseless.”

Mr. Bharara’s office, writing to a federal judge on Thursday, said that the criminal charges against Ms. Khobragade would remain pending.

“We will alert the court promptly if we learn that the defendant returns to the United States in a nonimmune capacity,” the prosecutors told Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, “at which time the government will proceed to prosecute this case and prove the charges in the indictment.”
 

uparyupari

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Maybe the "slave" though that NZ was the US and he will get citizenship by claiming asylum :lol:

I hope the GoI takes strong ation against this "slave" and the incompetent Ambassador who embarrassed India.
 
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coffee_cup

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So bascially they bring their low-caste hindus as servants to their missions in the foreign countries and then treat them as slaves, forgetting they are on a foreign soil and not in India? Yes we know, in India they would get away with it without any trouble.

In civilized countries however, it has consequences.
 

cloud_9

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Maybe the "salve" though that NZ was the US and he will get citizenship by claiming asylum :lol:
.
He had the choice but he chose not to press charges against the women and was whisked away to India by the MoEA guys just after the incident.
 

Manindra

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He had the choice but he chose not to press charges against the women and was whisked away to India by the MoEA guys just after the incident.
Its high time that MEA should barred diplomats to take domestic helper from India.
 

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