India’s NY diplomat in maid trouble

DUBAI - The present Indian consul-general in New York has been accused of treating a former domestic help as a slave and making sexual advances, a charge rejected by the diplomat as “utter and complete nonsense”.

By Bikram Vohra

Published: Thu 23 Jun 2011, 12:43 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:41 AM

Prabhu Dayal was a popular and erudite consul-general for India in Dubai earlier in his career. He had made several innovative projects and upgraded the services available at the consulate.

Dayal, known for his blunt and often ambitious approach to his career does, however, have to face the embarrassment of the present situation though it must be said this is not the first time an Indian diplomat has been charged with slave labour.

All too often the maids hope to get an injunction to stay on in the US when the tenure of their employer is over and they are heading home by hiring ambulance-chaser lawyers or seeking ‘asylum’ on the grounds of ill treatment. The Indian high commissioner to Kenya was indicted in similar circumstances in 2003.

The present case has been filed and docketed according to legal procedure and the charges are specific. Dayal may find succour under diplomatic immunity but it puts a crimp in a fast-track career.

In this case, according to reports in India, Santosh Bhardwaj, Dayal’s former maid, has filed a forced labour-suit against him for making her work for long hours every day at $300 a month, confiscating her passport and letting her sleep in a storage closet. She has also accused him of making sexual advances.

Speaking to Khaleej Times from the Big Apple, Dayal said: “Lies, malicious lies, not a shred of truth in them, this will be proven in due course.”

Asked if there could be a connection between this case and the earlier ‘war of attrition’ between the city of New York and the Indian consulate over the wrongful arrest of a diplomat’s daughter, he said: “I can say nothing now.”

It may be recalled that the consulate was in the news recently when Krittika Biswas, the 18-year-old daughter of Debashish Biswas, a vice consul, filed a suit against the New York City government, claiming $1.5 million for being ill treated in jail and wrongfully accused of sending obscene e-mails and not being given the diplomatic status she deserved. Could this be a return match from the City seeing as how Dayal has a reputation for being abrasive?

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