Rape Accused Saudi diplomat Escapes Via Vienna Convention Loophole-India Stands Mute Witness
Written By Vishakha Sharma Billa
While the other page 3 crime drama running on the news channels is overflowing with the details of the who did it to whom with some hundred odd suspects thrown in the chronological order, there is a parallel horror story unfolding where nobody has moved beyond the opening credits and 90% of the people aware of the case are not aware of the name of the chief accused!
The Gang Rape of the Nepali Women on the Indian Soil was done by the Saudi Arabian First Secretary in New Delhi, Majed Hassan Ashoor. Please remember his name is Majed Hassan Ashoor! And as the offence at hand is not a petty crime– it is rape, sexual abuse, sodomy and abetment of trafficking, in the country of Candle marches, charismatic leadership and committed talkathon Newscasters, this absence of affirmative voice or action has started to ring the death knell of India’s supposed new avatar of muscular foreign policy.
The victims are also very silent; Nepal has not shaken and stirred the world about this and very soon using this convenient silence, the story will be put to sleep in some seventh page of the newspapers soon till it reaches its obituary column.
Facts will shout in support of the silence, that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, grants complete immunity to the officer and his family, including for heinous crimes and human rights violations, that India cannot violate a convention it has been a part of, along with more than 187 countries of the world, and where there is also a realistic fear of the safety of Indian diplomats and migrants in Saudi Arabia being jeopardised. And all this, in addition to the business sense, that prevents India from getting on the wrong side of the Oil rich Saudi Arabia.
The Facts bind no doubt, but that is where a smart and savvy leadership can liberate the shackles of diplomatic dilemma with assertive pressure on the Saudi Arabian Govt. And it has been done before, after being suitably pressurised by the US govt, a senior Georgian diplomat was stripped of his immunity by his government after he killed a 16-year-old American girl while driving under influence in America in 1997. A will will find a way!
Nepal may not be as rich as the Saudi Kingdom or as important to India strategically, to contain the funding to Pakistan by Saudi Arabia, but some things go much beyond the profit and loss statements and should be placed higher than the rising graphs of the foreign equity flowing from the gulf; the trust of thousands of the Nepali women who seek shelter under our sovereign promise of protection, to back our strong words about our commitment to never again have a Nirbhaya on the streets of India, with strong action and last but not the least, because nobody, no bully should be allowed to get away with such sick trail of devastating human lives that erodes the confidence on the natural justice.
Strength of the country is not just in its GDP but in the confidence of its citizens on the fairness and equality of justice there. Gang rape in India is considered rarest of the rare and can attract a maximum penalty of capital punishment. India needs to book its place on the table of negotiation with Saudi Arabia and make a case for revoking the diplomatic immunity of the accused, send him back to India for the case, including of his family members, who had the audacity to assault the Indian police force while on duty of investigating this case or at the least declare them all persona non grata. People of the country are watching, talk tough and act tough. If there is a case crying out for Humanitarian grounds overtaking set procedures, it is this Ms. External Affairs Minister!
And for the world powers, in the times of today when we are moving towards all being the global citizens, maybe it is time to have a re look at the Vienna convention of 1961 also- these rules were meant to protect the diplomats but not to iron clad them in such a manner that they can hammer the humanity out of shape.