China claims Indian diplomat not ill-treated

Beijing: China today dismissed as "untrue" charges that an Indian diplomat was ill-treated at a court in Yiwu when he was trying to secure the release of two Indians kidnapped by Chinese traders and said police have launched action against five local suspects in the abduction case.

"Relevant reports saying that the Indian consular official was forbidden to take food and medicine and was besieged during his stay in Yiwu are not true," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing here.

Hong`s remarks came when he was asked to comment on reports that Indian diplomat S Balachandran, a diabetic, was denied food and water, leading to his fainting at the court in the Chinese trade hub of Yiwu which he had visited to obtain the release of the two Indians – Shyamsunder Agrewal and Deepak Raheja – on December 31.

The two Indians, who complained of ill-treatment and torture ever since they were "kidnapped" on December 15, say they were merely employees of a company which owed money to its Chinese suppliers, and their employer has fled without clearing the dues.

"I want to stress that China is a country under the rule of law and it attaches great importance to China-India relations. Relevant departments have always maintained lawful rights and interest of the Indians in China in accordance with law," Hong said. Hong said the two Indian businessmen are currently put up at a hotel. Indian officials said efforts are on to bring them to Shanghai.

Raheja, one of the two Indian businessmen, had earlier told PTI over phone that they still apprehended trouble as a large crowd of locals had surrounded their hotel. At the media briefing, Hong said the two men "are afraid and the local police have taken measures to ensure their security. Public Security officials of Yiwu have adopted criminal enforcement measures against five suspects who were involved in illegal detention and relevant case is due for investigation."

"Strictly abiding by the Vienna Convention on consular relations and relevant laws and regulations, China ensures the physical security for foreign consul officials and provide convenience and facilities for them to carry out their duties," he said.

It is only an individual case caused by economic dispute and the Chinese judicial authorities are dealing with it in accordance with the law, Hong said. "China hopes that the Indian side will look at this case from objective and just perspective and educate and get the Indian businessmen in China to abide by Chinese laws and regulations and conduct business in good faith," he said.

Without directly referring to an advisory put out by the Indian embassy in China asking Indian businessmen to stay away from Yiwu after the December 31 incident, Hong said "Yiwu is the largest trading market of small goods. We welcome businessmen from around the world to conduct their business there."