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Not fooled, say diplomats

New Delhi, Feb. 4: Uganda will help three women from the east African nation return home after they complained to Delhi police that they were lured into sex trafficking in India.

But diplomats from multiple African nations, including Uganda, have told The Telegraph they do not accept the Aam Aadmi Party’s claim that the incident exonerates Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti who led a vigilante raid against Ugandan and Nigerian women mid-January.

The mob led by Bharti did not try to assist the Ugandan and Nigerian women during that raid and instead forcibly restrained them and demanded they be arrested, contrary to the concern for these women that the Delhi government now claims, these diplomats argued.

“This is the hunter claiming to be the best friend of the hunted,” a Kenyan diplomat posted in India said. “They may try to fool people in India, but no African here believes the Delhi minister did what he did to, in any way, rescue our women.”

The Arvind Kejriwal government approached the ministry of external affairs today after three Ugandan women last night recorded police statements complaining they were lured to India with the promise of jobs but were then pressured to enter prostitution. The women said they lived in Malviya Nagar, Bharti’s constituency that includes Khirke Extension where the minister and a group of locals on January 15 demanded that police raid a house where Ugandan and Nigerian women lived and arrest them.

The foreign office wrote to the Ugandan high commission, which will now offer consular and legal assistance to the women, Ugandan and Indian officials confirmed. A diplomat from the Ugandan mission will also accompany the women during any court appearances they may need to make before they can return to their nation.

But African diplomats questioned the Delhi government’s attempts to link a specific vigilante raid against women who have subsequently complained against Bharti to other cases of human trafficking.

“The Delhi government needs to decide — are Ugandan women culprits to be raided and arrested, or are they victims,” a Ugandan diplomat said. “They can’t be one on January 15 and the other on February 4.”

This isn’t the first time that Kejriwal and his government have justified Bharti’s raid by pointing to the trafficking of Ugandan women to India, and to the presence of trafficking victims in Malviya Nagar.

On January 20, Kejriwal had flashed letters he claimed an official from the Ugandan high commission had handed over to Bharti the previous evening, adding that the official had thanked the Delhi minister for rescuing Ugandan women.

But the letters involved a seven-month-old case of human trafficking, and the Ugandan high commission denied any official ever met Bharti or shared any documents with him. The foreign office — which is required to keep tabs on the whereabouts of diplomats posted in India —confirmed that no Ugandan diplomat was even in Delhi for three days before January 20.