An ifs officer, Anupam Ray, on deputation to the High Commission in London, was assaulted on Friday by some Britons. The reason? There was an inordinate delay in issuing visas, said sources in the High Commission to HT.
The offenders had to be taken away by the diplomatic protection group. A shaken Ray, who was due to move to the US in January, is flying to Washington on Monday itself. An MEA spokesperson, however, denied the matter, saying there was only an incident of a lady assaulting a security guard with her umbrella.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone had raised the visa delay matter during his recent visit to India.
Another senior High Commission official, Gitesh Sarma, traveled to India last month to seek his transfer out of London as soon as possible. Though not directly connected with issuing visas, Sarma met Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon to expedite his transfer out of the London to the Atomic Energy Commission in Mumbai, where he will now move on deputation, leaving London immediately after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit to India on January 21.
Failure by the senior officials to put adequate systems in place to cope with the additional winter rush for visas to India has led to large queues in front of the High Commission choking traffic all the way beyond the London School of Economics and BBC offices which are located next to the High Commission. Even the plan to outsource some of the consular arrangements (like collection of application forms and return of visa-stamped passports) has not taken off in London, although it is in place in many other Indian missions abroad, official sources said.
To add to their woes, the Mission has been flooded with complaints from people of Indian origin who are seeking their People of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Indian Citizen (OIC) cards that will give them dual citizenship rights. Some senior officials, including Ray and Rajat Bagchi, who oversees Indian Affairs as the Minister (Coordination) in the High Commission, are being transferred out following the spate of complaints.