Sushma Swaraj steps in to help Indian girl in Tanzania

02/04/2017

New Delhi, Feb. 4: External affairs minister of India Sushma Swaraj has taken serious note of the alleged lack of help by an official at the Indian High Commission in Tanzanian Capital Dar Es Salaam, who apparently refused to help an Indian student hailing from Chennai who had been mugged by a biker there who snatched her bag. The woman, Charanya Kannan, is a student at the Harvard Business School.

“Charanya Kannan — I have carefully gone through your write up. Just give me the name of this officer in the Indian High Commission in Tanzania,” Ms Swaraj tweeted to Ms Kannan, who promptly replied, “When the minister of external affairs reads your article and takes up an issue, thank you ma’m.” Ms Kannan had visited Tanzania for a course there recently.

“I had lost two phones, cash, credit cards, driver’s license and worst of all, my passport, and had gained bruises all over my hands and legs and one particularly noticeable bump in my head for the bargain,” Ms Kannan wrote. But a shock awaited her at the Indian High Commission there. She wrote. “On Monday, armed with the police report and tonnes of optimism, I went into the Indian Embassy to meet the consular officer. India’s foreign ministry runs one of the most efficient operations now, this should get sorted out in seconds, I thought. But, apparently, not. The consular officer wouldn’t even look up at me or the Assistant Dean of Harvard Business School, Gabe Handel, who came in with me. For some reason his empty table was more attractive to him than our faces. I explained my situation to him, and he said, “You can’t return this Saturday. Passport issue takes 3 weeks here. I can give you an emergency certificate.”

She further wrote, “At this point I knew he was simply playing tough. I tried recalling all that was taught in negotiation, forced myself to smile and said, “Surely Sir, I’m sure with all your power you can do something for a quicker re-issue. I have no money or phone now, I cannot afford to stay back in Tanzania for 3 weeks. My semester starts this Monday, and I have left my two-year-old son in the United States. My whole course ends in three months and I need to graduate, I cannot go back and wait in India for three months, that would mean I have to forego my degree. Is there something I can do like paying extra for tatkal issue or fast courier?” I may have even managed to get my eyes teared up as I mentioned all this. “Nothing can be done. Even if you give me two crore rupees, nothing can be done,” was his response. “Sir everyone is tweeting to our foreign minister these days, I hear that Sushmaji helps to accelerate processes, do you think that will help in my case, sir?” “You tweet to anyone. Let’s see what they can do. What will they do? They will tell us to do and again we only do it. You tweet to anyone, let’s see what you can do,” he said with furrowed brows and a higher decibel level.”(AA)

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