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Two Indian High Commission staff abducted, released by Pakistan

Photo used for illustration purpose.

Photo used for illustration purpose.   | Photo Credit: iStock/Getty

Two Indian nationals, employed as drivers in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, went missing for several hours on Monday, in a suspected case of abduction by local security agencies.

Paul Selvadhas and Dwimu Brahma were, however, later released by authorities in Pakistan after India lodged a strong protest.

Upon the release of Mr. Selvadhas and Mr. Brahma, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed in a note that both the drivers were involved in a traffic accident in the morning and were arrested. The initial police report had claimed that the duo were involved in fake currency circulation though the issue remains unconfirmed by the Pakistan foreign office.

Visible injuries

Informed Indian sources said the visible injuries on the two show that they were beaten up in police custody. They underwent medical tests upon returning.

Two Indian High Commission staff abducted, released by Pakistan
 

The two drivers went out on Monday morning but failed to return to the mission, prompting a frantic search amid concerns that two were possibly taken away by Pakistan’s security agencies. In response, India summoned Syed Haider Shah, the Charge d'Affaires of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi and handed over a strong note of protest.

“The demarche to the Pakistan CDA made clear that there should be no interrogation or harassment of the Indian officials. The responsibility for the safety and security of the concerned diplomatic personnel lay squarely with the Pakistani authorities,” said informed sources. The sources also confirmed that the Pakistanis had also taken possession of at least one vehicle belonging to Indian mission.

Diplomatic sources from Pakistan have said the Government of Pakistan will make further statements regarding the case.

Pak. staffers expelled

The incident comes a fortnight after India expelled two employees of the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi on espionage charges. Abid Hussain and Mohammed Tahir were accused of behaviour “incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission” and were asked to leave India within 24 hours.

Since the expulsion, the Indian mission in Pakistan has witnessed persistent harassment of diplomats and non-diplomatic staff. The daily harassment had become serious and India had sent a note verbale last Friday to ensure its officials are treated according to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 and the Code of Conduct of 1992 that ensures safety of Indian and Pakistani diplomats during hostile exchanges.

The note from Islamabad's MoFA states Mr. Brahma has been working at the Indian mission since September 8, 2017 and Mr Selvadhas arrived soon after. The abduction of the drivers along with their vehicles, apparent physical assault and charging them with crimes, is part of the high tension diplomacy between the two countries, where the missions located in the respective national capitals often bear the brunt of hostilities.

Despite the talk of treating diplomats according to international conventions, diplomats often run the risk of harassment.

In June 2013, a senior Pakistani diplomat’s driver was allegedly beaten up by Indian security personnel near the Jawaharlal Nehru University and in 2016 in the aftermath of the Uri terror strike, Mehmud Akhtar, an official in the Pakistani mission was apprehended and deported. He was accused of running an intelligence gathering network. The cases drew similar responses from Pakistan like Monday's incident.

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Printable version | Aug 15, 2020 8:15:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/two-indian-officials-abducted-later-released-by-pakistan/article31836382.ece

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