India has recalled its envoy to New Zealand Ravi Thapar following allegations that his wife assaulted a member of his domestic staff. “Though no charges were pressed by the service staff member, the Ministry will investigate the matter further. The High Commissioner has been posted back to headquarters,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Saturday.
A team was sent from the ministry to New Zealand to ascertain the facts and conduct an independent inquiry — it liaised with local authorities to resolve the matter. The team also facilitated the return to India of the staff member on May 28.
The victim, believed to be a chef, walked 20 km. one night from the diplomat’s residence to Wellington where he was found by a citizen in a distressed state, officials said. He was then taken to a police station and later spent several nights at a Wellington night shelter.
The man has alleged that he was kept in slavery and assaulted by Sharmila Thapar, the high commissioner’s wife, reports in New Zealand media said.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the issue was first brought to the ministry’s notice on May 10 when one of the service staff members of the High Commission was found missing.
“Though no charges were pressed by the service staff member, the ministry will investigate the matter further. The high commissioner has been posted back to headquarters,” he said.
Swarup said the High Commission had immediately informed both New Zealand police and the Foreign Office. Authorities reverted with the information that the staff member presented himself to the police on May 11 and made certain allegations.
The ministry then sent a team to New Zealand to ascertain the facts and conduct an independent inquiry.
“The team liaised with the New Zealand authorities to resolve the matter. The team also facilitated the return of the service staff member, who wanted to return to India. He returned on May 28,” Swarup said.
Meanwhile, New Zealand media said Thapar was set to leave the country later Saturday. New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it is aware Thapar is preparing to leave the country.
“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,” a spokesperson said.