As criticism mounted against Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti for carrying out a raid targeting “Ugandan and Nigerian” women over allegations of being linked to a sex-and-drug trafficking ring, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal jumped to his cabinet colleague’s defence on Monday.
Kejriwal claimed an official from the Ugandan High Commission had met Bharti recently and supported his action. However, the Ministry of External Affairs said Ugandan diplomats were all out of town.
At his protest outside Rail Bhawan, Kejriwal even waved what he said was a letter written by high commission officials supporting Bharti’s claims.
“A woman from the Ugandan High Commission came to meet Somnath Bharti last evening and told him ‘you did very well, many women from our country are being trafficked’. She also brought a letter,” Kejriwal said.
Hours later though, the MEA denied the Ugandan High Commission had approached the Indian government in the last few days since most of their diplomats are not in town.
The MEA said the letter was of June 2013 and since then the Ugandan government had not raised this issue with India in the last few days.
Sources said the Ugandan High Commission officials are on leave and are not in Delhi, and only one person has returned. The diplomat – a junior-ranking official – has told the MEA today that nobody has approached the Ugandan mission so far.
“We have been told by the Ugandan mission that none of its officials have met Delhi government ministers,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the Aam Aadmi Party was creating problems with friendly countries.
“It is completely wrong. They are not here. The high commissioner is not here… I am accustomed to seeing these kind of letters which they transpose and play around with. This is a letter dated June 2013. It is sad that they are playing with the country’s reputation. You are playing with country’s relationship with friendly countries. I cannot think of anything greater in terms of betrayal of this country than what is being done,” Khurshid said.
Asked about the identity of the Ugandan official, Bharti only said: “I will not reveal the identity of the official, who is a whistle-blower. I am aware that the Ugandan High Commission is closed for holiday. Had they not been on a holiday, more details on the issue would have come out.”
The letter in question – distributed by AAP Monday – is dated June 19, 2013, and is written by Brig George J Etyang, Defence Advisor, Uganda High Commission, New Delhi, and is addressed to the Chief of Military Intelligence, Uganda Peoples Defence Forces Headquarters.
It refers to a case of a Ugandan woman, whose name is redacted, who was “duped” into coming to New Delhi by a “well coordinated racket of sex-traffickers based in Kampala and Delhi”.
“The purpose of this communication is to draw your attention and probably interrogate the lady in question for more information since she is expected to arrive back at Entebbe International Airport at 1917450 June 2013 aboard Kenya Airways flight KQ414,” the letter said.
Moreover, in her letter to the Ugandan High Commission in Anand Niketan, the woman recounts her stay in India and states that she was living in Malviya Nagar, near Sai Baba Mandir where Bharti had conducted a raid last week.
“After reaching India, she was bringing men everyday to me and forcing me to sleep with them, but I refused to do so…My passport, ticket and yellow fever certificate is in her custody and she denied to give me back…I ran from Malviya Nagar yesterday evening… and came to Uganda Embassy,” the letter reads.
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