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

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".