Should diplomatic immunity extend to those who perpetrate violence against the vulnerable? Should domestic violence be treated as a private and lesser issue than the sanctity of diplomatic status? No one should be pronounced guilty until proven as such, but how can that happen in this case, where the accused cannot be investigated or tried?
And which state is justified in saying when it’s citizen is hurt? “We are carefully looking into the incident. It involves sensitive and personal issues pertaining to individuals. It is premature to make any further comment at this stage. It is now expected that this matter will be resolved between husband and wife to their mutual satisfaction.”
Ashis Ray, “Indian diplomat in UK accused of assaulting wife,” Times of India, January 10, 2011.
In Delhi, MEA spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said both the ministry and the high commission were looking into the incident, and treading carefully because of the sensitive and personal details involved. The reports said Verma attacked his wife after a heated exchange between them.
Verma is one of the three senior-most diplomats in the high commission in London and responsible for economic relations between India and UK which are considerable. He’s been at his current job since 2007, and before that, he was private secretary to Pranab Mukherjee, finance minister, and formerly foreign minister. Verma is a senior bureaucrat from the West Bengal cadre.
As of now, Verma, minister (economic affairs), is not known to have voluntarily offered to return to India nor has he been recalled. But such a possibility cannot be ruled out. Breaking the story, the Daily Mail newspaper reported that neighbours heard Verma’s wife screaming in the quiet Hampstead Garden suburb area in the north-west part of the British capital. They phoned the police, who then visited the couple’s home. Officers of the Golders Green police station reportedly questioned Verma but could not take any further action as he enjoys diplomatic immunity. Scotland Yard, however, informed the British foreign ministry about the matter.
A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed, “At 9.30 am on December 11, following reports of an assault at an address at Corringham Road, NW11, a man in his 40s was spoken to by officers. No arrests were made.”
A spokesman for the Indian mission said, “We are carefully looking into the incident. It involves sensitive and personal issues pertaining to individuals. It is premature to make any further comment at this stage. It is now expected that this matter will be resolved between husband and wife to their mutual satisfaction.”