Saturday, April 1, 2006 (New Delhi): After the CBI charged a senior Indian diplomat of human trafficking, the Ministry of External Affairs has been caught in an embarrassing position.
Special Secretary Rakesh Kumar who was heading the prestigious Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) between 2003 and 2005 has been charged with trafficking nine persons to Germany as part of a bhangra troupe in September last year. When they disappeared, fingers pointed to him and he was moved from ICCR, but now he may have to proceed on leave altogether. Kumar was on an official trip with Minister of State Anand Sharma to Brazil when the raids took place. Now he is returning early to face investigation. This is not the first time that CBI is probing corruption in MEA officials.
Murky details Two years ago, they were asked to probe a visa scam in the Indian High Commission in the UK where they found senior officials like the Consul General guilty. In fact, when the CBI raided Kumar’s house, they found Rs 4.5 lakh in cash. The agency is due to interrogate Kumar soon. However, the problem will arise when CBI seeks sanction from the ministry to prosecute such a senior officer as getting clearances from ministries is not easy especially at such senior levels. Meanwhile, the ICCR says they are strengthening any loopholes that may exist while sending artists abroad.