Indian diplomat ‘manhandled’ in China

Last Updated: Monday, January 2, 2012 - 23:15

Beijing/New Delhi: In an ugly incident, an
Indian diplomat based in Shanghai was "manhandled" in a court
while two others compatriots were tortured and detained,
prompting India to lodge a strong protest with the Chinese
government.

46-year-old S Balachandran was in the court in connection
with the hearing of a case related to the detention of two
Indians by locals in the eastern business hub of Yiwu for
alleged non-payment of dues by their company, whose owner had
allegedly fled the country.

The situation turned ugly when Balachandran, Consul of the
Indian Consulate in Shanghai, was leaving the court after
prolonged negotiations on the night of December 31 with regard
to the release of Deepak Raheja and Shyamsunder Agrawal.

The diplomat, a diabetic, fainted after being "manhandled"
and had to be rushed to a hospital in Shanghai.

The incident led to strong protest from India.

A `note verbale` (protest note) was handed over to the
Chinese Foreign Ministry today by Indian Embassy officials
calling for action on both the issues, sources at the Embassy said here.

The issue of "manhandling" figured in the note, which also
mentioned "torture and detention" of the two Indians by local
traders, they said.

The note requested the Chinese government to take "follow
up action" with the local officials of Yiwu, a trade hub near
Shanghai.
In New Delhi, Zhang Yue, Deputy Chief of Chinese Embassy,
was summoned by the External Affairs Ministry and told that
this was not the way to treat a diplomat.

Sources said Zhang was told that since Balachandran was a
diabetic, he required regular intake of food and should have
been allowed access to it.

"This seems to be a civic-commercial dispute. We would do
our best to handle this properly," Zhang said emerging from
the External Affairs Ministry.

"I just listened to the officials from the MEA about what
has happened. We are trying to find out what had happened
actually," he said.

Balachandran was assaulted when the two Indians clung on
to him to leave the surcharged place. The incident took place
in the court and in the presence of police and the judge.
A high drama ensued as the crowd prevented the two from
going along with him demanding that they pay millions of Yuan
owed to them for commodities purchased from them.

They later pounced on them and snatched the two from
Balachandran, who in the process suffered injuries especially
to his knee.

Balachandran was rushed to the local hospital in an
ambulance in a semi-conscious state by local officials and
some Indian traders based in Yiwu.

The Indians hailing from Mumbai were held as captive after
the owner of the company - Euro Global Trading - Feroze Khan,
whose nationality was yet to be ascertained, fled without
paying the dues to local suppliers.

The dues reportedly runs into several million Yuan.

The family members of the two Indians alleged that they
were tortured and ill-treated by the traders.

After representations from their family members,
Balachandran went to Yiwu on Dec 31 to get their release.

After five long hours of proceedings at a local court the
Chinese suppliers asserted that they will be released only if
their dues were paid even though the court said they could go,
according to Indian officials, as well as Indian traders who
were currently based in Yiwu.

Riva Ganguly Das, the Consul General of the Shanghai
Consulate of India said that Balachandran was
"manhandled".

Because he was diabetes problem he fainted as he had no
access to water, she said.

The Indian diplomat is being treated for a knee injury
among others.

Das said his condition was stable and he was undergoing
various medical tests. Local officials reportedly apologised
to Balachandran for the incident.

Over 100 Indian traders reside in Yiwu which is the centre
of commodities trading.

Last year Indian merchants bought over USD 15 billion
worth of goods from the market.

Indians say such incidents are common in Yiwu as local
suppliers target the traders whenever payments are not made in
time.

PTI



First Published: Monday, January 2, 2012 - 13:41

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