Envoy rules out intervention over ‘attack on Indian nationals’

Crime Prevention Group goes a bridge too far

Venkat Raman

India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Sanjiv Kohli has affirmed that neither he nor any official of his diplomatic mission would ever ask for the intervention of the Indian Government in the law and order situation of New Zealand.

Replying to a report appearing in an Indian community newspaper on July 1, 2017, he said that the Indian Government followed the time-honoured principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of another country and that there was no question of raising the incidents of aggravated robbery and violent crime with his Government.

The Report had said that the Members of the ‘Crime Prevention Group,’ a private grouping which changed its stance of criticising the National Party-led Government and the New Zealand Police from June 30, 2017 when its Leader Sunny Kaushal joined the National Party (“at its invitation”), had met Mr Kohli on July 1, 2017 and handed over a petition.

“Crime Prevention Group – a community action group for safer businesses and communities, have reached out to the Indian government through the High Commissioner of India to take up the matter of rising incidences of crime and aggravated robberies against Indians urgently with the New Zealand government and prevent such attacks.

Memorandum to Delhi

“A memorandum in this regard was submitted by the executive team of the Crime Prevention Group to the Indian High Commissioner Sanjeev Kohli in a closed-door meeting on Saturday, July 01, in Auckland,” the Report had said.

The Report had quoted Mr Kohli as saying in an exclusive interview, “Since this was a genuine concern for the Indian diaspora whereby in some instances those affected were Indian nationals, the Indian government is keen to hear those concerns. We will be communicating these concerns to New Zealand authorities through appropriate diplomatic channels.”

The Report had also said that Mr Kohli was appreciative of the steps being taken by the New Zealand authorities to address the concern of safety and law and order among people of Indian descent.

Dignity of Indian Policy

We are not sure if the above mentioned (which we admit was only a part of a longer report published) ruffled some feathers in Wellington, but Indian Newslink decided to seek clarifications from Mr Kohli on three major standpoints: 1. India’s Foreign Policy is the finest and the fairest in the world, based on principles of integrity, consistency and non-interference in the internal affairs of any country 2. India would seek to speak to a foreign government only if its citizens are in danger or at any form of risk. Almost all the owners of diaries and superettes who were unfortunate victims of crime are New Zealand nationals and hence their safety is the responsibility of the New Zealand Government and 3. Mr Kohli is a high experienced career diplomat and is held in high esteem by the New Zealand Government and a cross-section of the population.

Need for solidarity

Mr Kohli addressed our concerns instantly. The following is the operative portion of his reply to us. “My only advice to them at the conclusion of that meeting (with Crime Prevention Group) was to stay united, demonstrate solidarity on issues that concern the Diaspora as a whole and seek solutions to their concerns through means available to all citizens of this country. My categorical submission to them was that countries had no business to interfere in the internal matters of other countries. I advised them that being residents of a country which valued diversity and which had impeccable credentials regarding its commitment to the well-being of everyone, they should seek redressal of their concerns within the democratic space made available by this country to all its residents.”

Moral Obligation?

The newspaper had quoted Mr Kaushal as saying, “We believe that by getting Indian diplomatic mission on board to take up the safety concerns of their Diaspora with the host nation is their moral obligation.”

The Indian Government has the right and moral obligation to interfere only in the case of Indian nationals holding Indian passports that are current and valid – Indian nationals such as permanent residents, migrant workers and international students.

Owners of dairies, superettes, petrol stations and liquor stores who are New Zealand nationals should not therefore seek the intervention of a foreign government in maintaining law and order in this country.

We are not sure if these victims had given the Crime Prevention Group permission to represent to the Indian Government but at least two members of the Group said that they were not aware of any petition being presented to the Indian High Commissioner.

“We were told that a meeting had been arranged with Mr Kohli. It is always a pleasure and privilege to meet him and hence we were present. There was a general discussion on law and order. Mr Kohli was very friendly and courteous to us. We were not aware of any petition being presented to the Indian Government. That is not a good step,” Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust Chairman Jeet Suchdev and Former New Zealand Indian Central Association President Ashok Darji said.

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