There is conflicting information emerging from the Indian High Commission in Lilongwe over the role it played in seeking police protection for its national Chandrashekhar More.
While the High Commission says it never assisted More to secure police protection, details have emerged that the accused actually requested the embassy to get two armed Malawi police officers.
More, who is said to have set up an edible oil extraction plant in the country, was arrested in September 2015 on tax evasion charges and returned to India having secured permission from the court during the same month.
He only returned to Malawi in March this year to allegedly resolve the outstanding tax issues with the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA). However, since March, a number of events occurred, including his deportation to India on May 12 2017.
On July 5 2017, the Indian High Commission in Malawi issued a press statement on More’s deportation in which it disowned any responsibility in helping the businessperson to secure police protection during his stay in Malawi for the case.
“The High Commission has not requested at any point to provide diplomatic privileges, rights or immunity to Mr More. The security provided to him was extended by police authorities, which is standard procedure, if the conditions to provide security are met,” reads a statement in part.
However, a communication from the Indian High Commission, which The Nation has seen, indicates that the office actually wrote Malawi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation over the police protection issue.
When contacted to clarify the contradiction, press officer for the Indian High Commission Anil Kumar yesterday said there was no way the commission could ask for diplomatic immunity for anyone.
“Moreover, he does not qualify and we cannot do that and we never did that,” Kumar, who is also the commission’s second secretary said before asking for a questionnaire.
But according to the diplomatic note dated March 10 2017, the High Commission advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation that More had requested it to help arrange “two armed security guards from the Malawi Police” for their protection and that More would bear the costs.
“As regards armed protection, the High Commission will be in communication with the Malawi Police Authority… The High Commission would greatly appreciate if the esteemed ministry could convey to the concerned authorities of Malawi to assist in resolving the tax related cases against Mr More,” reads the communication under reference number LIL/Cons/415/01/2017.
Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia on Sunday said she was not aware of any protection arrangement for More and referred The Nation to the Inspector General of Police.
However, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera also said he did not have information on the issue and needed time to find out to inquire from relevant officers.
But on his part, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Francis Kasaila confirmed in a separate interview that the commission indeed played a role by transferring the request to government.
He said: “The citizen [More] is using his mission to ask that he wanted security which he is going to pay for himself and the mission what it did was to transfer that letter to Malawi Government…
“My office, as Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the responsibility is to be like a bridge I get a letter from the mission and transfer it to the department concerned that’s all.”
Two weeks ago, Rumphi East member of Parliament Kamlepo Kalua (People’s Party-PP) raised a motion for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to comment on why the Indian High Commission was demanding diplomatic immunity for its deported citizen.
This was after the commission wrote the ministry asking government to make clear its intentions pertaining to the actions against More and requested for thorough investigations into circumstances leading to his arrest and deportation.