Anil Verma Called Back To India

India's chief trade diplomat in Britain Anil Verma is being transferred back after the external affairs ministry decided that allegations of him beating his wife were 'causing embarrassment' and hurting the image of the country.

The external affairs ministry has taken a serious view of the allegations, which are causing embarrassment to the country.

Verma, the third senior-most Indian diplomat and minister (economic) at India's high commission, had reportedly sought immunity from prosecution after being questioned by British police over claims that he assaulted his wife in December last year.

Sources added that Verma, a 1989 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of West Bengal cadre, is being transferred to Delhi immediately. The ministry will decide on further action after it probes the allegations of assault against the diplomat.

After the incident last month, the external affairs ministry had said the high commission of India and the ministry were aware of it and were carefully looking into it.

Verma's wife has gone into hiding with the couple's five-year-old son, fearing for her safety. Paromita Verma was quoted as saying she is living in fear of her life and has applied for leave to remain in Britain on humanitarian grounds, the Daily Mail reported.

Paromita is now separated from her husband after moving out of their home amid fears that she would be forcibly taken back to India. Verma is alleged to have attacked his wife after a heated argument. Officers questioned Verma but were powerless to arrest him because of his diplomatic status.

The incident occurred last month after neighbours were woken by a woman's screams. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'At 9.30 a.m. Dec 11, following reports of an assault at an address at Corringham Road, NW11, London a man in his 40s was spoken to by officers. No arrests were made.'

According to the report, Indian officials refused to waive Verma's immunity despite Foreign Office requests.

Under the 1961 Vienna Convention, foreign officials, their spouses, children and staff are protected from prosecution in their host country.

A close family friend told The Mail on Sunday: 'Throughout their time over here, Anil would boast about his diplomatic immunity and he would tell Paromita that no one could touch him because of it.

He would goad her and say, 'Call the police as many times as you want. I've got diplomatic immunity.' He was shameless with it. He has been given so much power and he is abusing it.

The Indian high commission in London said that it was aware of the incident and was looking into it carefully, adding: 'It involves sensitive and personal issues - pertaining to the individual. It is premature to make any further comments at this stage.'

Paromita's solicitor Emma Woolcott said Saturday night that her client was unavailable for comment.

'We do not tolerate diplomats working in the UK breaking the law. When we are made aware of an offence committed by a diplomat or their family, we will take appropriate action.

Shrusti Jain

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