The lawyers representing a New York Police Department officer arrested at the IGI airport after three bullets were found in his check-in baggage, quashed reports that the arrest was made in retaliation for the incident involving Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
They said the US embassy itself had refused to offer financial assistance required for bail. Lawyers said on March 11, the day when Manuel Encarnacion was arrested, it was they who paid the Rs 50,000 required for bail.
Encarnacion had arrived in Delhi to meet his Pune-based wife and was arrested at the IGI airport for possessing three 9 mm bullets in his check-in baggage. He was charged under Section 25 of the Arms Act.
Tanveer Ahmed Mir, one of Encarnacion’s lawyers, said, “Manuel had attended a weapons training programme just before his departure and left them in his jacket inadvertently. These bullets were found in his baggage as he entered the IGI airport, but there was no ‘conscious possession’ whatsoever.”
“On the day he was arrested, a lower court judge set bail at Rs 50,000. Since he had no money with him — his personal belongings had been seized by police — and the US embassy was unwilling to give financial assistance, the money was arranged by us. Once he received bail, we arranged his accommodation in Paharganj, as the embassy refused to help again. An application was filed seeking that his belongings be returned to him and that was allowed a week later,” Mir said.
During a hearing on March 25 at the Delhi High Court, Encarnacion’s counsel argued that there was no intent to carry the bullets, and thus no criminality. The matter will come up before court on April 17.
The lawyers also countered reports that Encarnacion had been targeted after Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was charged with visa fraud in the US.
In a letter dated April 4 to US Secretary of State John Kerry, New York Congressman Peter King had termed the arrest of Encarnacion as “politically motivated” in response to the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
The Indian Embassy in New York, however, dismissed the reports of a “revenge” arrest. A statement issued by the Indian consulate in New York “dismissed as ridiculous suggestions that there was any connection between the detention of a NYPD official in New Delhi and the arrest of an Indian Diplomat in New York”.
Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson of the US Department of State, said, “I think we feel like we’ve moved past this and hope the Indians have as well.”
The US embassy said that they could not answer questions on their alleged reluctance to help Encarnacion for wont of the Privacy Act Waiver.
— With PTI inputs