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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (February 22, 2018)

February 22, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Good evening and welcome to this press briefing. I don’t have any announcements so we will straightaway move into the Q & A session.

Question: We have seen that controversy regarding Jaspal Atwal who has been convicted by Canadian court accompanying the delegation. Did you raise it with the Canadian counterpart and how did he get the visa?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: There are two aspects to this question. One of course is the presence of Mr. Atwal at the event. I think this is something which should be addressed to the Canadian side and I believe they have already clarified. They have said that it was an oversight and that is the reason the invitation for the reception tonight has been withdrawn.

On the visa part, it is something which I cannot say immediately how that happened. There are different ways of people coming into India. Whether you are an Indian national, whether you hold OCI card, so we are ascertaining details from our mission. We will have to see how this happened and then I can perhaps at a later stage share details on this matter.

Question: What were the issued discussed between the two foreign ministers and did the issue of Khalistani extremists activities in Canada was also taken up?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I can tell you it was a good meeting, they started with a one on one and then we moved on to delegation level talks. I have already tweeted the areas which were discussed. Basically the discussions were on trade and investments, energy, security matters, people to people exchanges, tourism etc. I can tell you that all matters which are of interest to us, came up for discussion.

Question: Did the issue of Khalistan extremists come up for discussion?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Again I would say the same thing, all matters of bilateral interest came up for discussion.

Question: Canadian side has been asking for a bilateral investment protection agreement besides the CIPA, basically they want the bilateral investment protection agreement to go first and the trade agreement to follow because they say that it would be easier for Canadian pension funds to invest in India after that. So what is our position on that and taking up from your earlier response, the way Mr. Atwal might have come to India, now I am just wondering, a person like Mr. Atwal who has question marks against him for his various activities, how would he get an e-visa or even an OCI card?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I must tell you that I gave you certain examples. I didn’t tell you that he came through an e-visa or any other visa. What I said was let us not presume things and decide how he managed to come. This is something which we are trying to find out and in due course we will be able to come up with a reason how and under which visa he managed to come to India.

On the second query, there are existing mechanisms between the two sides to discuss the issues which you have raised. It is not essentially MEA driven, there are different ministries and departments who take a call on the investment promotion agreement. There was some discussion which took place this morning as well and this is a continuing process and let’s see how we move on this.

Question: Mera sawaal Maldives ko lekar hai, jo sthiti wahan bani hui hai, usmein Bharat Sarkar kis tarah ka stand le sakti hai, kis sthiti mein hum is waqt hain. Dekha ja raha hai ki China ki taraf se lagaataar koshishein jaari hain aur jaahir taur par jis tarah se East Indian Ocean mein deployment hua hai China ki taraf se, uska lekar lagata hai ki wo bhi interfere kar sakta hai, to tamaam sthiti ko hum kaise dekh rahe hain?

(My question is related to Maldives, taking into account the current situation there what kind of stand Indian government could take, what is our status regarding that? It could be seen that there are continuous efforts by China and the way there has been recent deployments by China in East Indian Ocean, it is possible that China could interfere, so how are we viewing the whole situation?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Dekhiye main to ye bataa sakta hoon ki humari sthiti kya hai aur jo humne bahut saaf taur par bataai hai, samay samay par hum press release issue karte rahe hain aur jo kal ka press release tha wo humne share kiyaa tha, group mein bhi aur website mein bhi.

(See, I can tell you what is our stand and which we have articulated very clearly, we have been issuing press release time and again and we have also shared a press release yesterday which is also available on our website.)

In fact I will speak in English for the benefit of International media as well that our sincere desire is to see that democracy in Maldives is restored and situation returns to normal. This, we feel, is also the desire of the people of Maldives. We are therefore dismayed that the Maldives Government has extended to emergency for a further period of 30 days. We do not see any valid reason for doing so. We, of course, continue to watch the situation and would continue to urge the government of Maldives to release political prisoners, release Chief Justice, implement the Supreme Court order and restore the normal functioning of the institutions of democracy.

Question: Sirf Jaspal Atwal hi nahi balki Paramjeet Singh Randhawa, wo bhi ek known Khalistani hain unko bhi visa diya gaya hai. Halanki ye kaha ja raha hai ki 38 saal baad unko visa diya gaya hai. Mera sawaal ye hai ki kya inka visa radd kar diya gaya hai, kuch aisi khabarein aa rahi hain Canadian side se ki inka visa radd kar diya gaya hai, Atwal ka bhi aur Randhawa ka bhi, kya aap usko confirm karenge ki unka visa radd kar diya gaya hai?

(Not only Jaspal Atwal, there is another person named Paramjeet Singh Randhawa who is also a known Khalistani has also been issued visa although it is being said that he has been given visa after 38 years. My question is that there are some reports from Canadian side that the visas of both Randhawa and Atwal have been scrapped, could you please confirm if their visa have been scrapped?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Visa radd karne ki jo baat hai, iski to mujhe jaankaari nahi hai lekin ye Canadian side kaise confirm karegi ki inka visa radd hua hai ya nahi. Visa to hum issue karte hain, wo kaise radd kar denge? Wo ye kar sakte hain ki jo unke events ho rahe hain unmein unko bulayein nahi but visa issue karna ya radd karna hamara right hai, Government of India ka right hai, kyonki issue hum karte hain to radd bhi hami karenge. Wo ye kar sakte hain unko delegation mein shaamil na karein, kintu aapne jo specific naam liye hain unki jaankaari mere pass abhi nahi hai aur main pata karta hoon iske baare mein. Thank you.

(I do not have information regarding the scrapping of their visas but how it is possible that Canadian side can confirm if the visas have been scrapped or not. Visa is issued by us, how can they scrap it? What they can do is that they do not invite them to their events but it is our right, it is the right of government of India to issue or scrap a visa because since we issue the visas so only we can scrap any visa. What they can do is to not include them in the delegation. Regarding the specific names that you have taken, I don’t have any information at this moment, I will enquire and get back to you. Thank you.)

Question: My query is related to Prashanti Tiwari’s complaint that she had asked the Ministry of External Affairs to intervene and look at the legal immunity given to the UNFPA seniors. She has alleged that there has been some harassment that has been meted out to her. What is the response of Ministry to her?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I can tell you that we have indeed received the complaint from Prashanti Tiwari. She was working in Patna, I believe, and as is the norm when we receive a complaint against somebody who is holding a diplomatic status, we forward the complaint to the person for their comments and in this case also we did the same and we forwarded the complaint to the person who has been accused. We got the response from the person and that has been forwarded to the complainant, so that process is complete. Now we will see how things move forward from there.

Inhone sawaal uthaya ki jo Prashanti Tiwari hain wo UNFPA mein kaam karti hain, Patna based hain aur unhone UNFPA ke country director ke khilaaf sexual allegation lagaye they, uska kya hua, unhone EAM ko aur Ministry ko likha tha, uska kya hua? To maine jawaab yahi diya ki hamaare pass wo request aayi thi aur jaisa ki aise maamlon mein hum karte hain jismein accused agar diplomatic holder hote hain to wo complaint humne unko forward kiya aur unse jawaab maanga ki ye aapki against aaya hai, iska aapka kya jawaab diya hai. Jo bhi jawaab diya hai wo humne complainant ko forward kar diya hai, ab uske baad aage jo hoga wo hum dekhenge.

Question: This Atwal situation has created a huge embarrassment. Now has the Canadian Government regretted this entire process, has the Indian Government been informed by anyone in the Canadian Government that look, we regret what has happened?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think they have already said that this was an oversight. The fact that an invitation that was already extended to Mr. Atwal has been withdrawn it basically shows that they have taken into account the concerns which we have and I think we just need to move on from that. I think it was an oversight, they have accepted it was an oversight and I think we need to move on.

Question: In this Atwal case, what is the status of this gentleman? There are reports that he was convicted and sentenced for 20 years for shooting at a Punjab minister and some other reports that the conviction was overturned by a higher court, what is the status, has the MEA made any efforts to find out what is the status of this person and if it is indeed proved, if your feedback shows that he is indeed a convict and terrorist who has been convicted for terrorism, would there be any possibility of any penal action against him because he is in Indian soil right now and is there also a possibility that you may scrap his visa, what is the action that you can take as per law and what are you considering?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Let me take all the questions on this issue.

Question: These things are happening quite frequently because not just this one, they said it was an oversight but previously we saw this photograph with Nirav Modi in which it was said that it was quite unplanned and impromptu, how these oversights are happening, is the MEA not consulted on these issues?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You are mixing two very different issues. I think you are not getting my point, I have already mentioned that it was an oversight as far as Atwal is concerned. It was an oversight and they have accepted it was an oversight by the Canadian side.

Question Contd.: MEA could have objected to it?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
As I said we are only involved as to find out how the visa was issued but let us not mix up the two.

Question: Are there any charges pending against these two gentlemen i.e. Mr. Randhawa and Atwal in India, in Punjab police or any other state police, will they be detained and questioned and may be charged further? Has MEA got any information on that or will it be like that they will be flying away and you will be looking into it?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think you are again trying to see and look into the future what will happen.

Question: Jo Khalistan se jude log hain jo yahan aaye aur kaise aaye wo to ek technical sawaal hai. Ek chhota sa sawaal hai, ghatnaaon pe focus karke baat kar raha hoon, last September mein main Canada mei tha aur wahaan jo sthiti hai Khalistan ko lekar ke aur jitne front hain, main radio station mein bhi tha, akhbaar ke daftar main bhi tha, uspar Bharat Sarkar kya kar rahi hai, aaj tak kya kiya hai, hamare jo missions hain, hamare jo CGI, unki kya report hai, kya koi report hai aapke pass jispe koi kaaryawaahi hui hai anti-India forces including Khalistani?

(How the persons related to Khalistan came to India is a technical issue. Last September I was in Canada and I am talking focusing on certain events, there is this small question, the so many fronts that are there in Canada, I have been to radio station, I have been to newspapers offices, what is the Government of India doing, what have they done till now, what is the report from our missions and CGIs, so do you have any reports and what actions have been taken on anti-India forces including Khalistan?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Let me answer once and for all. I have of course mentioned that we are trying to find and ascertain how visa was issued to Mr. Atwal and I think we will be in a position to share as to how that happened. The fact that we issued a visa to him it also means that he is not an Indian national, he of course holds a Canadian passport. The details about his background, I have some information, I don’t want to sound sketchy and give you something which is not factually correct.

My request is that if you could just hold on, there are lot of queries about his background etc. so maybe in sometime once we have more details and also there are questions related to whether he can be apprehended here or whether there are charges pending against him in India, I think these are something which we may not be aware directly, we also have to consult with law enforcement agencies. My understanding is that there were cases against him for which he has already spent time in prison, that is my sense of understanding and whether there are still charges pending against him in India I think this is something which we will have to check with our law enforcement agencies.

Question: Mera sawal Nirav Modi ko lekar hai, wo lagaataar banks se sampark kar rahe hain, response bhej rahe hain, hum aapse jaananaa chaah rahe hain ki jo unhone email bheja hai, kya Videsh Mantralay ko pata hai wo kahan hain ya fir Videsh Mantralay trace kar paya hai aur jo doosari jaanch agenciyan hain unki taraf se koi request bheji gai hai aapke liye, kya sthiti hai, kya pata chal paaya hai?

(My question is related to Nirav Modi, he is constantly in touch with banks and sending responses to them. We want to know from you that the email that he has send, does the MEA has any information where is he now, or MEA was able to trace him or is there any report from other investigative agencies, what is the current situation now?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye maine last time bhi kaha tha ki jo location hai, abhi main television dekh raha tha to usmein aath-dus country ka naam aa raha hai, kahin bhi ho sakte hain, to maine kaha bhi tha ki hum is stage mein nahi aate hain. Dekhiye kuch legal processes hain jo complete karni hoti hain. Hamare pass advice aata hai agency se ki humne inko yahan locate kiya hai aur wo unko maamla hai, wo kaise karte hain, aur ab MEA ka role aata hai. Aapko pata hai ki jab hamare pass advice aaya hai, on the advice of agencies, jo hamein karna tha, we did suspend the passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

(See, last time also I have said this, right now I was watching television and there were names of eight to ten countries which were being reported as to his whereabouts, so I had said we don’t come into picture at this moment. There are certain legal procedures which have to be completed. It is the job of investigative agencies to locate the person and when they advise us about the location then MEA comes into picture. You know when we received the advice we did what we had to do.)

What we had to do we did and we have suspended the passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. They are supposed to reply in a stipulated time, if they don’t reply we will take further action, but the location part is something where we don’t directly come into the picture, we come in at a later stage when there is some progress that happens in the matter and we are advised of the same by the agencies.

Question: Nirav Modi and whoever who has to report to you in stipulated time, does he do it in person, does he do it on email or can his lawyer come and meet officials of the MEA?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: When you send a notice to a person who is accused of the crime which Nirav Modi is accused of, normally you send an intimation to him and for example this is an intimation of suspension. Now this was sent to him that this is your passport number and you had applied for your passport on such and such date. Your passport will be suspended if you don’t reply within a certain number of days. So once we send it to their address, sometime we also send it to them by email so that he is in the receipt of the intimation. Once he received the intimation then he is bound to reply in a stipulated time to the notice and the charges which we have explained to him. So if he replies then we go through that and if we don’t find it satisfactory then of course the passport is revoked. If he does not reply then again the same thing happens. So now we are waiting for him to respond on the notice which has been served to him. I can share with you that he has acknowledged in the sense that there was in addition to the postal address, we were asked to send this to a particular email id and that again we have done.

Thank you all. 



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