India and Saudi Arabia could be headed towards an ugly diplomatic spat after a senior diplomat belonging to the Saudi Embassy was accused of keeping two Nepalese women as sex-slaves in Gurgaon. On Wednesday, however, the Saudi embassy dismissed the charges as “completely false” and contrary to the facts in their possession.
The diplomat, his wife and their daughter have been booked for torturing the women kept as "hostages for more than a month". The women were rescued from his residence in Gurgaon after a raid on Monday night. Their medical examination has confirmed rape and sexual assault.
The embassy said they will wait for the Indian government to clarify the matter as per diplomatic norms.
Meanwhile, a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official said the Saudi embassy’s version and that of the Nepalese embassy that has taken up the issue “were different and need to be reconciled.”
The MEA on Wednesday sought for a detailed report from the Gurgaon Police on the sexual assault case. "We are seeking details from the local police," MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup told ANI.
Deep Upadhyay, the Nepal Ambassador, told ANI that they will make a comment when the case is established. "We have good relations with the Saudi embassy," he said.
"The embassy understands that necessary investigation has been initiated," he said.
Upadhyay said that upon learning of the situation from local police, the Nepal Embassy sought help from MEA for rescue and necessary investigation of the case.
"Nepal Embassy is in touch with MEA and local police authorities," he added.
The police rescued the girls on Tuesday evening after an NGO registered a case of trafficking of two Nepalese girls.
According to the FIR filed by the police in Gurgaon, the two women had been lured to India with a false promise of jobs, and then sold to the diplomat, who is the First Secretary at the embassy.
"Two Nepali women were on Monday evening rescued from an apartment flat on the fifth floor of Ambience Island Caitriona complex here. The victims were rescued after the intervention of the Nepalese embassy and with the help of an NGO, Maiti India. The Nepali women were lured on pretext of all comforts and high salary for a job in Saudi Arabia by a woman in Nepal six months ago," Rajesh Kumar, Assistant Commissioner of Police(ACP), said.
"After keeping the duo for some time in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, both were brought to Gurgaon. The victims were gangraped by the diplomat and his friends and guests," Kumar added.
Kumar said that a case against the diplomat and "unknown people" has been registered at the DLF-2 police station under various sections of gang-rape (376 D), rape (376), unnatural sex (377) and some other sections of Indian Penal Code.
An official told The Hindu that “there was no chance” of arrest, because the accused had diplomatic immunity. Which means, not just the diplomat, but his family members who have been accused in the case, will get the privilege too.
“Despite the terrible nature of the crime, unless the Saudi Arabian government waives it, the immunity will protect them completely,” the official told the newspaper.
Officials told The Hindu that the diplomat, whose wife and father have also been charged, has taken a flight out of Delhi already. However, it is possible for the official’s home country to waive immunity. "This tends to happen only when the official has committed a serious crime, unconnected with their diplomatic role," notes the report.