Saudi diplomat booked for gangrape, Nepalese women recall ordeal

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NEW DELHI: A diplomat from Saudi Arabia is among those booked for gangrape and wrongful confinement after two women — a woman, 44, and her daughter, 20, from Nepal — were rescued from his residence in Gurgaon after a raid on Monday night, Indian police said.

The women, who were hired as domestic help, were allegedly kept as “hostages for more than a month”. Their medical examination has confirmed rape and sexual assault. 

But Saudi Arabia hit back today evening, accusing the police of violating the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that, ironically, India had invoked two years back to defend diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York.

The embassy of the powerful Gulf nation – India’s largest source of oil – has complained to the ministry of external affairs which in turn has asked Gurgaon police for a “report”, foreign office spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. 

“The diplomat has been charged with rape, while his wife has been booked for torturing the two women,” Gurgaon assistant commissioner of police Rajesh Kumar said. “The victims were allegedly sexually exploited by the diplomat and his embassy friends.”

The diplomat – a first secretary rank officer, according to Saudi officials – and his wife can’t be arrested or even detained for questioning, under the immunities extended to diplomats under the Vienna convention.

The only way they can be questioned is if Saudi Arabia’s ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati waives the accused diplomat’s immunity, and by late evening, Riyadh made clear it had no such plans.

According to diplomats familiar with the case, Gurgaon police raided the apartment, E-502, in Caitriona Towers, Ambience Lagoon on Monday night after another Nepalese woman alerted a non-profit group, Maiti Nepal. The NGO, which works to rescue Nepalese victims of trafficking, contacted the police.

According to The Telegraph daily, “The raid was not easy “The Saudi Arabians had bouncers who threatened even the police.”

Police said the two women employed by the diplomat’s family had been allegedly raped, assaulted, threatened and forced to have unnatural sex over a period of four months. 

Victims also told the police that the Saudi’s friends, who used to come to the flat for body massage, also raped them. 

“There were days when seven to eight men — all from Saudi Arabia — would assault us. If we resisted, the diplomat and his family would threaten to kill us and dispose of our bodies in the sewer,” said the older woman.

While the diplomat is untraceable since the raid, he has been booked under sections 376 D (gangrape), 376 (rape), 377 (unnatural offence), 342 (wrongful confinement), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 323 (causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, no arrest has been made so far.

The diplomat’s wife, two others from Saudi Arabia and others have also been listed as accused, Indian Express reported. 

The allegations against the diplomat also bring into focus a fear expressed by many activists some months back – that the devastating earthquake in Nepal this past April could spawn a trafficking racket.

According to Pandey, the two women rescued yesterday were handed over to an Indian agent by the name of Anwar by a Nepalese woman called Kalpana after the earthquake. The women were promised steady salaries of up to Rs 30,000 a month working in Saudi Arabia.

Anwar, according to Pandey, passed the women on to the Saudi diplomat who took them to Jeddah. There, they were put up in a hotel.

“Right after we were employed, our employer took us to Saudi Arabia for 15 days. There, he did not touch us or misbehave with us. After we returned in May, he asked us to massage him… he then raped us and forced us to have unnatural sex and oral sex. After that he offered us to his friends regularly,” they stated in their police complaint. 

They claimed that the diplomat also took them to other places, including Nainital and Agra, where they were introduced to other ‘guests’ and subjected to further sexual assault.

Maiti Nepal came to know of the alleged crime when another Nepalese women had gone to the diplomat’s place for work, but fled after seeing the condition of the two victims. She then went to this NGO and alerted them. The NGO then informed the Nepal Embassy, which wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs and Gurgaon police. A police team raided the diplomat’s residence on Monday night and rescued the two women. 

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