|Kejriwal flashes the letter that he said was handed over to his colleague on Sunday; (below) the letter, dated June 19, 2013, referred to a specific incident of sex trafficking last year and not the vigilantism last week
New Delhi, Jan. 20: Letters flashed by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal today to justify his law minister Somnath Bharti’s vigilantism against Ugandan nationals last week have boomeranged on the Aam Aadmi Party that now stands accused of outright lying.
Kejriwal claimed that an official from the Uganda high commission here visited Bharti yesterday and handed over letters supporting his decision to lead a mob that accused four Ugandan and two Nigerian women in south Delhi of drug trafficking and prostitution last Wednesday.
“A woman from the Ugandan mission came to meet Somnath Bharti last evening and told him ‘you did very well, many women from our country are being trafficked’,” Kejriwal said. “She brought a letter.”
But the Uganda high commission told The Telegraph that none of its staff was in New Delhi over the past three days, and that no one from the mission spoke to or met anyone from the Aam Aadmi Party.
Uganda has registered a formal protest with the ministry of external affairs, accusing the AAP of lying to justify what multiple African missions in New Delhi have officially described to the foreign office as racism.
One officer alone returned to the capital today, and she has confirmed that she did not communicate with anyone in the Delhi government, the high commission said, after scrutinising the letter that this correspondent had emailed to the mission for verification.
The foreign office, which is required to keep tabs on the whereabouts of foreign mission staff posted in India, confirmed that no Ugandan mission staff was in New Delhi over the past three days.
“I can confirm that there was no Uganda high commission staff here,” a foreign ministry official said.
Bharti, when told that Uganda had described as untrue his party’s statement that a high commission official met him yesterday, claimed the African nation was acting under pressure from the Indian government.
“Uganda is a small country, and it is doing this under pressure from the Indian government,” Bharti told The Telegraph, before levelling an allegation against the foreign office. “The Indian high commission in Uganda is involved in sex trafficking, that’s why the Indian government is covering this up.”
Asked about the name of the Ugandan official who he claimed had visited him, Bharti said: “Why should I name someone?”
The contents of the letters are unrelated to the allegations Bharti faces — of leading a mob that forcibly detained and beat the Ugandan and Nigerian women in his constituency of Malviya Nagar last week.
One of the letters, from the former defence adviser at the Uganda high commission George J. Etyang to a superior in Kampala, is dated June 19, 2013 — seven months ago. It details allegations of sex trafficking in Kampala and New Delhi that victimised a Ugandan woman.
The second letter, from the woman, is addressed to the Ugandan high commission, and details how she was forced into sex trafficking in Malviya Nagar. This victim left New Delhi for Kampala on June 19, 2013, the first letter states.
But neither relates to the vigilantism on Wednesday. “Those are internal letters, and were written in a completely different context to what the Delhi minister did on Wednesday night,” the Ugandan high commission official said.
Other sources said the copies of letters might have reached the AAP through other recipients. They added that the copies of the letters might have been shared last year with the residents’ welfare association, which had been complaining of illicit activities in the neighbourhood, and local police.
The four Ugandan and two Nigerian women who faced the mob’s fury have complained to Delhi police, which have registered an FIR against “unknown persons” — the standard terminology used when the identity of all those accused is not known. They have also complained to the Ugandan high commission.
“Let them complain to the police,” Bharti said.
African missions in India, far from reassured by Bharti’s actions — as the Aam Aadmi Party is suggesting — have been fuming over the past week, and many have written to the external affairs ministry over what they have argued was racism.
On Saturday, the foreign office had to call an emergency meeting with all African envoys in India to reassure them that Delhi police would deploy additional forces to protect their nationals, and would set up a helpline that would be administered from the police commissioner’s office.