Indian diplomat quits New Zealand after wife accused of assault

Indian diplomat quits New Zealand after wife accused of assault

WELLINGTON - India's top diplomat in New Zealand was preparing to leave the country Saturday amid accusations that his wife had assaulted a staff member.

Police said a member of staff at the Indian diplomatic mission alleged he was assaulted by Sharmila Thapar, the wife of High Commissioner Ravi Thapar, but declined to lay a formal complaint.

A removal van was seen at Thapar's Wellington home on Saturday morning, but Sharmila Thapar refused to answer questions when approached by journalists.

However, a New Zealand foreign ministry (MFAT) spokesman confirmed to the New Zealand Herald that they were aware the high commissioner - the equivalent of ambassador in Commonwealth countries - was leaving.

"MFAT was aware a staff member raised with New Zealand police concerns about his treatment in the high commission," the spokesman said.

"MFAT has been advised the individual concerned elected not to take the matter further. That staff member had independent legal representation and decided to return to India." New Zealand officials said further questions about Thapar's departure should be directed to India's ministry of external affairs.

The staff member was taken to the Wellington police station in early May when he was found wandering the streets in a distressed state after walking nearly 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the high commission.

Fairfax Media said the man, believed to be a chef, alleged that he was kept in slavery and told police through an interpreter he was physically assaulted by Sharmila Thapar and threatened with assault by Ravi Thapar.

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