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Top ex-Swiss diplomat Vögele deported from Ahmedabad airport as Modi opposed protectionism at WEF, Davos

By Rajiv Shah
A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi mounted a powerful defense of globalization at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland (January 23), in a little known development, India's immigration officials deported a veteran Swiss ex-diplomat from Ahmedabad airport, allegedly without providing any reason as to why they were doing so.
Without naming US President Donald Trump, Modi had said, “Instead of globalization, the power of protectionism is putting its head up.
Bringing the "surprising" incident to light, Kurt Vögele, 75, in his letter dated January 29, 2018, to Sibi George, Indian Ambassador in Switzerland, Berne, says, "While arriving at Ahmedabad Airport I had an awfully bad experience: My visa, which I had obtained by end of December 2017 in Berne, was rejected by the immigration officials."
Kurt Vögele
The letter, copies of which he has sent to Dr I Cassis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation; A Baum, Ambassador of Switzerland in India; and R Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland, says, "I was just told that I had no right to enter India, that I was blacklisted and that I had to return to Switzerland immediately."
"My insistence on having a valid visa, on wanting to phone my friends who were awaiting me as well as on wanting to know the reasons for my deportation was totally ignored", the letter says, adding, "My arguments, especially my asking for the reasons for this decision were not considered at all. My passport also was not given back to me; it was returned to me only after landing in Geneva", the letter continues.
Calling it a "humiliating experience", and direct result of "an arbitrary decision, not worthy of a country I have learned to respect and appreciate", Vögele recalls, he has lived in India for 13 years in three spells, "mainly in the diplomatic function as Country Director of the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), which is part of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs."
Insisting that he has been "wronged, saddened and violated", Vögele says, "I am in a situation where I am prevented from visiting old and profoundly cherished friends, from working and exchanging with them on themes of Human and Institutional Development, from maintaining deep ties as well as from accepting invitations from members of former partners of SDC..."
Apprehending a "connection", Vögele says, "I was informed that my colleague, Josef Imfeld, who was from 2000 to 2005 also at the Swiss Embassy in New Delhi, and who was mainly in charge of regional programmes of SDC, was denied an entry visa for India", adding, "We both are really perplexed and need to know why."
Josef Imfeld
Linked with India since1969, when he started to work with SDC as the Indian Desk Officer in Berne, during his first spell in India (l972-73), Vögele was, among others, in contact with top expert MS Swaminathan, then Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and conducted a study with the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) on usefulness of crossbreeding in Kerala.Calling it the "first study of its kind in India", the letter says, " It was the beginning of a long, stimulating and enriching relationship with the country where I was able to put all my energy into it and from where I also received a lot. I was among other duties for many years in charge of the Asia Division of SDC in Berne, before my last spell as Country Director (Counsellor) in the Swiss Embassy in Delhi (from 2000 to the end of 2005)."
"In these almost 40 years of my professional relationship with India I could help to develop the programme of SDC in India substantially (for instance partnerships with Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), with NABARD, with MILMA (Malabar Union), Calicut, and the Kerala Institute for Local Administration (Thrissur)", he says.

Comments

Medha Patkar said…
It is obvious that Modi government's suspicion has and always have taken over all claims and advantages of globalisation,as in the case of Mr.Kurt.Diplomats too are not spared what about minorities and common people struggling for justice.
Uma said…
What a shame!

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