Indian envoy’s family robbed in Durban, son held as hostage

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The safety of an Indian diplomat came under question when his five-year-old son was briefly held hostage following armed robbers entered his official residence in Durban on Thursday. The official sources, however, have confirmed the incident and said that no physical harm was caused by anyone. India, on the other hand, has officially taken up the issue to its diplomats with the South African government.

As per the agency reports, the family of India’s consul-general in Durban, Shashank Vikram, members of his domestic staff and a visiting teacher helped up at their home on Innes Road. “They are OK but they were obviously traumatized. Nobody suffered physical harm,” said consul S K Pandey. The Independent Online reported that a domestic worker’s robbed cell phone could provide clues to the event of the robbery in the home of India’s consul-general in Durban. It described in its report that “A catastrophic lapse in security for such a high-profile diplomatic family is now being investigated at the highest levels after the consul general’s official residence, India House, in Morning-side, was breached for the first time in its long history, and seemingly so easily”.

The robbers allegedly entered by wrecking the entrance gate, a tactic approached often in a spate of shameless robberies in recent times in affluent suburbs north of Durban. Commenting on the queries on the armed intrusion, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “Ensuring the safety and security of Indian diplomats/officials posted abroad and their families is a matter of highest priority for us. In the context of the incident, we have taken up the matter with the relevant authorities, and investigations are currently ongoing. We expect that the intruders will be arrested soon. External affairs minister has spoken to the consul general and inquired about the well-being of his family.”

After this incident, India repeated South Africa of its responsibility to take care of diplomatic staff and property, under the Vienna Convention.  The victim Vikram was quoted as saying by Independent Online that “Durban is home to us and we are very comfortable here. We never expected that such a thing would transpire. That is why I think it has come as a very rude shock. This is the first time India House has been intruded like this”. “They took my youngest son hostage and also beat up my staff and they showed their guns to my wife. We are still trying to come to terms about what has happened,” he said further as he expressed hope that Indian diplomats and India House would be provided adequate security,” he further added.

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