India’s New Zealand envoy Ravi Thapar recalled after wife accused of assaulting domestic staff
Delhi’s top diplomat in New Zealand said he would return to India but denied that his relocation was linked to accusations that his wife had assaulted a staff member.
Wellington: Delhi’s top diplomat in New Zealand said he would return to India but denied that his relocation was linked to accusations that his wife had assaulted a staff member.
Police said a member of staff at the Indian diplomatic mission alleged he was assaulted by Sharmila Thapar, the wife of High Commissioner Ravi Thapar, but declined to lay a formal complaint.
A removal van was at Thapar’s Wellington home Saturday morning where Sharmila refused to answer questions.
However, Ravi denied any suggestions a staff member had been assaulted and said he was returning to India to care for his mother.
“I’m going but to take care of my mum because my dad passed away last year. I can’t keep up 13,000km away just talking to her on the phone,” he told reporters.
He added his wife continued to suffer the effects of a car accident, sometimes wore a neck support, and would not have assaulted anyone.
“It’s very, very absurd that a lady of 50 plus with these medical issues could confront or could even think of or even conceptualise assaulting a physically able-bodied person of about 26 years old,” he told Fairfax Media.
A New Zealand foreign ministry (MFAT) spokesman confirmed to the New Zealand Herald that they were aware the high commissioner – the equivalent of ambassador in Commonwealth countries – was leaving.
“MFAT was aware a staff member raised with New Zealand police concerns about his treatment in the high commission,” the spokesman said.
New Zealand officials said further questions about Ravi’s departure should be directed to India’s ministry of external affairs.
The staff member was taken to the Wellington police station in early May when he was found wandering the streets in a distressed state after walking nearly 20km from the high commission.
Ravi also rejected allegations that the man had been kept in slavery, saying he was free to move about at all times.
“He was the custodian of the house, he had our implicit and complete trust. He had the keys. Everything was open,” Ravi said.
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