Skip to main content

Revoke, apologize for "unceremonious" deportation of ex-Swiss diplomat from India: Sushma Swaraj told

Kurt Vögele
By Our Representative
Forty-five civil rights leaders, academics and professionals have asked India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to immediately revoke what they call “unceremonious” deportation of veteran ex-Swiss diplomat and an old India hand, Kurt Vögele, from the Ahmedabad airport on January 22, seeking an apology from the government for the “unreasonable” treatment meted out to him.
In a letter, posted to Swaraj on Tuesday, they have said that the “damage” caused by the action to the country’s image abroad could be repaired only by the “gracious gesture” to invite Vögele to visit India in “early future.”
The letter quotes media reports suggesting his friendship with colleagues in the Navsarjan Trust, a Dalit rights NGO, denied Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license in December 2016, was perhaps the reason why he was denied entry into India.
Suggesting this was a spurious excuse, the letter insists, “In all our democratic country and under our Constitution this can surely be no grounds for deportation. The Trust was denied a renewal of its FCRA licence in December 2016. If this were a reason, it would be a breach of the right to free association and also amount to victimization of the Trust.”
The letter has been signed, among others, by Greenpeace India CEO Aakar Patel, National Foundation for India executive director Amitabh Behar, Dalit rights activist Martin Macwan, Janvikas chairperson Gagan Sethi, former National Institute of Design director Ashoke Chatterjee, danseuse Dr Mallika Sarabhai, former Planning Commission member Dr Syeda Hameed, and North Eastern Social Research Centre director Dr Walter Fernandes.
The letter reminds Swaraj that Vögele was told he had “no right” to enter India, even though he had a valid visa, issued by the Indian consulate in Geneva only in December 2017. It adds, “During his hours of waiting in limbo at the airport, Vögele was denied the use of a phone and not allowed to inform friends who had come to receive him about his situation.”
It adds, “His passport was confiscated and returned to him only on return to Geneva. You can imagine the shock, apprehension and anxiety of a 75 year old man at being so undeservedly isolated and stripped of his right of entry.”
Pointing that “a person of Vögele’s age and stature had to face humiliation is difficult to comprehend”, the letter says, the ex-Swiss diplomat has been serving with the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC), a Swiss Foreign Ministry arm, is “a consistent and valued friend of India for over 40 years.”
“His 13 years in India were spent in the main serving as Country Director of the SDC which is an arm of the Swiss Foreign Ministry”, the letter says, adding, “He has also spent several years in charge of the Asia Division of SDC in Berne, before his last spell as Country Director (Counsellor) in the Swiss Embassy in Delhi, from 2000 to 2005.”
A person who has worked, among others with MS Swaminathan, former director-general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, partnered with the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), NABARD, and was instrumental in assisting the 2001 Kutch earthquake, Vögele in a protest memo to the Indian ambassador in Switzerland said his reasons for coming to Ahmedabad to meet “old and profoundly cherished friends”, even as “working and exchanging with them on themes of Human and Institutional Development.”

Comments

Sagar Rabari said…
This is very serious, government of the day cannot convenient stand regarding people's connections with grass roots institutions like Navsarjan.

TRENDING

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Drèze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Skewed sex ratio 'behind' ban on rural Thakor girls' mobile use, inter-caste marriage

By Jharna Pathak*
On July 14, 2019, the Thakor community of 12 villages of Banaskantha district in Gujarat announced a ban on the use of mobile phones by unmarried women. Simultaneously, they imposed penalties on inter-caste marriages. The family of any girl of the community marrying without the consent of her parents would now be fined Rs 1.5 lakh while that of a boy marrying a girl from other community without his family’s consent would be penalised with a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

Were JVCs, rock cutters 'reinforcing' Statue of Unity base on dry Narmada riverbed?

By Kevin Antao* 
Having seen photographs and write-ups on the world’s tallest Statue of Unity, constructed and assembled off Narmada dam in South Gujarat, I always wanted to visit the site and see for myself the great marvel that it was being made out to be.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt promotes low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Sardar Patel's 'notable' achievement on J&K: Insertion of Article 370 in Constitution

By Shamsul Islam*
One of the "truths" manufactured in the boudhik shibirs (ideological training camps) of the RSS is that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who forced Article 370 on India while Sardar Patel, the first home minister of India, was opposed to it. The RSS leaders both inside the Modi government and outside ceaselessly keep on blaming Jawaharlal Nehru as the sole architect of Article 370, giving Kashmir special status.

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!

J&K curbs 'violate' International Covenant on civil, political rights: Letter to Modi

Counterview Desk
The International Federation for Human Rights (IFDH), a Paris-based human rights NGO with global presence, has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the decision to “reconfigurate” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), remove its special status and impose a “complete lock-down of the region” violates Kashmiris’ “fundamental right to self-determination and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives.”