The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi tug at Dakar envoy

New Delhi, May 27: India is mulling whether to seek the recall of Senegalese ambassador Mansoor Diop along with the removal of the diplomatic immunity enjoyed by his son, Mansoor Ali.

Foreign minister Yashwant Sinha last night approved a South Block “note verbale” asking Dakar to remove the diplomatic cover Ali enjoys by virtue of his father’s position. Now the external affairs ministry is preparing to deal with the situation if Senegal refuses.

Diop, being one of the longest serving diplomats in India, is not only ambassador of Senegal, but also the dean of the diplomatic missions in Delhi by virtue of his seniority.

Ali’s Indian driver Dilawar was allegedly killed after the two had a fight on Saturday night. But the investigating team has not been able to interrogate him as he enjoys diplomatic immunity. A case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder — that is killing someone without intent — has been filed.

During the day, a massive demonstration was organised by the drivers of the various missions in Delhi outside the Senegalese ambassador’s house, demanding Ali’s arrest.

Expelling the envoy’s son could be a possible response on India’s part. But South Block mandarins are also wondering whether they should also seek Diop’s recall since his son enjoys diplomatic immunity because of him.

According to the Vienna Convention, there are three conditions under which the children and immediate family members of a diplomat get immunity while he is serving in a foreign country. First, if the child is a dependent and is below 21 years. Second, if the person is above 21, but dependent on his father — meaning he has no independent source of income. Third, if he is below 21 years but is independent — meaning he earns a living.

Of the three, the first one is simple. But the second and third conditions are not clearly defined and interpretation is often left to the decision of the host country and the country to which the diplomat belongs.

South Block officials said that more than the law book, such matters are dealt by precedence. Going by similar cases and how host countries have reacted, the predictable thing for India to do is ask for the removal of Ali’s diplomatic cover.

But the problem starts if Senegal refuses to oblige. The only option for Delhi then will be to expel Ali. Officials are asking whether in that event it will be enough to get the son expelled or should his father also be asked to leave.

India is not sure how Senegal will react to its request of withdrawing Ali’s diplomatic immunity as Diop is an important man in Dakar — he is closely related to a very influential religious family. It is not clear whether President Abdoulae Wade’s government will take the risk of angering the religious leader by acceding to India’s request.

In that event, India may expel Ali and also ask ambassador Diop to leave.

Given that India and Senegal enjoy friendly and good bilateral relations, Delhi may not take the drastic step of throwing out both father and son, but might ask Dakar to quietly get Diop replaced by another senior diplomat.

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