A tale of two diplomats

New Delhi/United Nations/London: Even as India is trying to stave off more embarrassment from its diplomats overseas, another incident has cropped up.

The external affairs ministry has recalled Indian diplomat Alok Ranjan Jha for allegedly misbehaving with a passenger on an Air India flight to New York and will decide on disciplinary action after he returns home.

"He has been recalled. The ministry will take action after an internal inquiry," an informed source in the ministry said in Delhi Wednesday. Jha, a 2002 Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and first secretary in the permanent mission in New York, has been transferred to Delhi following the incident Jan 7, sources said.

His recall comes close on the heels of Anil Verma, the third-ranking diplomat at the Indian High Commission in London, being recalled following charges of wife-beating.

Ashok Tomar, additional secretary in charge of administration in the ministry, deals with cases of inappropriate behaviour by IFS officers. In the US, an Indian diplomat told IANS: "We have been told that there are reports appearing on Indian television regarding transfer of Mr Alok Jha to Delhi."

"Matters regarding an incident involving him at JFK airport were promptly reported to the ministry of external affairs, which is now seized of the matter and has transferred the officer to New Delhi," he said, without giving details. He did not wish to be named, citing ministry rules.

Jha topped the all-India civil services exams in 2002 and had opted for the IFS as his first choice.

Last week, the external affairs ministry decided to transfer back to India Anil Verma, minister (economic) and third-ranking diplomat in the Indian high commission in London, following allegations of assaulting his wife.

Row over X-mas tree provoked Verma: Indian mission

The Indian High Commission here has issued a blow-by-blow account on the alleged wife-bashing by its senior diplomat Anil Verma, who has been transfered back to India, saying the incident was "provoked" by a row over a Christmas tree gift.

Taking a tough stand on domestic violence, the mission in a statement here said, "there is no question of condoning domestic violence which is totally unacceptable. Once the officer returns to India, the matter will be thoroughly investigated and acted upon appropriately."

Noting that the Ministry of External Affairs has taken a serious view in the matter, it said, "the laws of the land would take care of any acts that need to be taken care of, consequent to the inquiry."

Verma, a senior IAS officer of West Bengal cadre, joined the High Commission here as Minister (Economic), ranking number three in the mission, on August 24, 2009.

Narrating the sequence of events, the five-page statement said, "apparently, the incident was provoked by a gift (a Christmas tree) made by Verma's aunt (her mother's sister who is married to Robert Chase and lives near their house) to their son.

"This was objected to by Verma and led to an altercation." According to the statement, Verma had offered to buy a Christmas tree for their son. However, Verma's wife Paromita had said that since they already had a tree from the previous year, they did not need to buy one.

Subsequently, when a Christmas tree was gifted by Mrs Chase, Verma said that he felt humiliated. He wanted to remove the tree from the house. When he went upstairs to do this, Paromita followed him and tried to prevent him from doing so.

In the scuffle that followed, she was injured. According to Verma, "Mrs Verma was hit on the face when he was trying to remove the Christmas tree from the house and she was trying to forcibly prevent him from doing so.

According to Mrs Verma, she was slapped. This resulted in bleeding from her nose due to damage to tissues in the nose.

"Mrs Verma ran out of her house and her neighbours called the police and an ambulance. The police recorded Mrs Verma's statement (which was also signed by her) after which Mrs Verma was taken by the ambulance to the Hospital and returned to her residence the same day."

India assures action against diplomat for flight incident

India's external affairs ministry has recalled its diplomat Alok Ranjan Jha from the UN and said Wednesday that "follow-up" action would be taken against him for allegedly misbehaving with a passenger on an Air India flight to New York about two weeks ago.

"The ministry is aware of the unfortunate incident. The matter was looked into immediately," Vishnu Prakash, the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, told reporters here Wednesday.

"The officer since stands transferred back to headquarters. Necessary follow-up action will be taken once he is back in New Delhi," he said.

Jha, a 2002 Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and first secretary in India's permanent mission at UN in New York, has been transferred to Delhi following the incident Jan 7, sources said.

His recall comes close on the heels of Anil Verma, the third-ranking diplomat at the Indian high commission in London, who is being recalled following charges of wife-beating.

Ashok Tomar, additional secretary in charge of administration in the ministry, deals with cases of inappropriate behaviour by IFS officers.

In the US, an Indian diplomat told IANS: "We have been told that there are reports appearing on Indian television regarding transfer of Mr Alok Jha to Delhi."

"Matters regarding an incident involving him at JFK Airport were promptly reported to the ministry of external affairs, which is now seized of the matter and has transferred the officer to New Delhi," he said, without giving details. He did not wish to be named, citing ministry rules.

The diplomat was transferred after he allegedly misbehaved with Air India flight attendants on a flight to New York Jan 7. There was, however, no confirmation of this incident.

Jha topped the all-India civil services exams in 2002 and had opted for the IFS as his first choice.

Last week, the external affairs ministry decided to transfer back to India Anil Verma, minister (economic) and third-ranking diplomat in the Indian high commission in London, following allegations of assaulting his wife.

Source: Agencies

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