Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why are we recalling this man?

The Indian government's reaction to the Anil Verma row seems typically South Asian. "Hush it up, it's between them" etc rather than take the upfront legal path. The Indian High Commission in London's first reaction underlines this. "It involves sensitive and personal issues pertaining to the individuals. It is premature to make any further comment at this stage." [Domestic violence in India]

Anil Verma, a 1986-batch IAS officer of the West Bengal cadre and third-ranked diplomat in the Indian High Commission, is accused of assaulting his wife. Verma's wife Paromita, covered in blood, was found screaming by neighbours on December 11. When the police arrived, 45-year-old Verma, a minister in the Indian mission, claimed diplomatic immunity and escaped action. Verma, an IAS officer from the West Bengal cadre, had earlier worked in Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's office when the Congress leader was India's Foreign Minister.

However, UK is not buying this route. “The Foreign Office does not tolerate diplomats working in the UK breaking the law,” said a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Spokesperson. Foreign Office officials met staff of the Indian High Commission in London to discuss the matter and to emphasise the serious nature of the allegations. British High Commission staff in Delhi also met officials of the Ministry of External Affairs. Yesterday, UK asked India to waive the diplomatic immunity for Verma, saying it does not tolerate envoys working in the UK breaking the law. “We can confirm that we have formally requested the waiver of diplomatic immunity for a diplomat posted at the Indian High Commission in London”, the spokesperson said.

India, however, has vetoed the request, stating precedent and common practice, to establish that a diplomat is to be tried according to the laws of his or her country. Verma was transferred back to India on Sunday. In addition, the government sources say that the transfer orders also apply to Paromita Verma since she's on a diplomatic passport. The Daily Mail reported over the weekend that Verma's wife, Paromita, has gone into hiding with their young son, fearing reprisals from her husband for going public on the matter.

One wonders if any criminal action will be taken against Verma once he is home and dry.


  1. This is well said. Who will get the punishment here is the question? Probably not the person who deserves it.

    I need to come here more often.

  2. Thanks Hari. Here is another piece from Manipur that underlines why we cannot let this go lightly

    Our society sanctions a husband hitting his wife