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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (January 19, 2023)

January 19, 2023

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for joining us for this weekly media briefing. Before we begin, I have one announcement. I am pleased to announce that the Ministry of External Affairs will be organizing the third Atal Bihari Vajpayee Memorial Lecture on 23rd January, that is the coming Monday. The lecture will be delivered by Ambassador Bilahari Kausikan, former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore and he's currently, as you know, the Chairman of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore. The topic of the lecture will be "The Future of Global Uncertainty”. External Affairs Minister will preside over this event. As you are aware, this is a memorial lecture series. It is organized as a tribute to late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a towering statesman who immensely contributed to crafting India's foreign policy, both as External Affairs Minister, and subsequently as Prime Minister. I'm happy to share that the lecture will be live streamed on MEA social media platforms and you can follow it there. Okay, I'm happy to take a few questions one by one.

Sidhant: Sir, I’m Sidhant from WION. Sir, in Australia, we have seen a number of temples being vandalized and graffiti being written on them, anti-India graffiti. Has India raised the matter officially with the Australian Government?

Shrinjoy: Sir, Times Now. Sir, you may be aware that BBC has recently broadcasted a documentary or longish documentary on the Gujarat riots, which also says that Narendra Modi was the perpetrator of ethnic cleansing. Now, this is based on a secret document that apparently has come from the foreign office of 2002. Now, what is the Indian government's reaction to it? The British Prime Minister has spoken. But what has the Indian government said or done about it?

Yeshi: This is Yeshi Seli from the New Indian Express. Nepal’s Prime Minister has said that he has desired to come to India, he said to a group of editors meeting in Kathmandu recently. Is Foreign Secretary also likely to go to Nepal? Any update on the eight naval officers?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I'll come back to the Nepal one. The second question is too far apart.

Abhishek Jha: Sir, I’m Abhishek Jha from CNN News 18 team. My question is regarding Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He said that West and NATO are attempting to make overtures to India to create additional problems in its relationship with China. He has also said that so called Indo-Pacific region, the West is out to create block architecture against Russia and China. Your comment on that?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I don’t know what to comment. He has said it. You didn’t put anything vis-à-vis me.

Vijayalakshmi: Sir Vijayalakshmi hoon India TV se. Sir thode din pehle Pakistan ke pradhanmantri ka ek interview aaya jismein unhonne kaha ki Pakistan apne sabak sikh chuka hai aur bharat ke pradhanmantri se kaha ki aaiye baith kar batchit karte hain. Kashmir aur Dhara 370 ki bhi unhonne baat ki. Toh kaise Bharat isko dekhta hai? Kyaa batchit ki koi sambhavna hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir Vijayalakshmi from India TV. Sir in a recent interview the Prime Minister of Pakistan said that Pakistan has learned its lessons and invited the Prime Minister of India to sit down and talk. He also talked about Kashmir and Article 370. So how does India sees it? Is there a possibility of dialogue?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sidhant, let me start with your question. Look, we are aware of a couple of temples that have been recently vandalized in Australia. We condemn these incidents. If I remember correctly, both are actually near Melbourne in Victoria. We strongly condemn such actions. These actions have also been publicly condemned by Australian leaders, community leaders and religious institutions there. Our Consulate General in Melbourne has taken up the matter with the local police. We have requested expeditious investigation, action against the perpetrators and of course measures to prevent such incidents in future. The matter has also been taken up with the Australian government, both in Canberra and in New Delhi. And we are looking forward to the action that we have requested. So that was in response to what you had asked.

Shrinjoy, you were giving some examples from the BBC documentary. I presume the one that you were talking about was from the day before...Do note that this has not been screened in India. So I am only going to comment in the context of what I have heard about it and what my colleagues have seen. Let me just make it very clear that we think this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. The bias, the lack of objectivity, and frankly a continuing colonial mindset, is blatantly visible. If anything, this film or documentary is a reflection on the agency and individuals that are peddling this narrative again. It makes us wonder about the purpose of this exercise and the agenda behind it and frankly we do not wish to dignify such efforts.

Dekhiye, ismen main jaisa keh raha tha ki India mein ye dekh nahi sakte, view nahi kar sakte isko. Ye BBC Two mein hai, vahan par aa rahi hai. Par hamari or se yeh kehna hai ki yeh ek propaganda piece hai, aur ek discredited narrative jo main keh raha tha, usi ko badhaane ke liye ek effort hai. Isamen ek bias jise kehte hai or ek continuing colonial mindset hai aur isamein bilkul objectivity nahi hai, spasht roop se dikhai deti hain agar aap usko dekhen. Sirf ye kehna chahunga ki, dikhta hai ki jo organization or individuals ismein jude hue hai, clearly isi narrative ko badha rahe hai, aur is narrative se, story se, unhi ke ooper reflection hai ki kis tarah ke organization ya individual hai ye. Aur isase hamen ye lagta hai aur ye prashn aata hai ki is exercise ka uddeshya kya hai or iske pichhe kya agenda hai. Or frankly jaisa maine kaha, hum iske upar koi jawab aisa nahi dena chahte taki iss program ya documentary ko koi dignity milen, koi achchhi tarah isko respond kare ham. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) As I had said, this has not been screened in India. It is being played on BBC Two. We think this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. The bias, the lack of objectivity, and a continuing colonial mindset, is blatantly visible. If anything, this film or documentary is a reflection on the agency and individuals that are peddling this narrative again. It makes us wonder about the purpose of this exercise and the agenda behind it and we do not wish to dignify such efforts.

Yeshi your comment… Yes, I've heard this before. I think I’ve responded to it. But if not, look, we would be very happy to receive the Prime Minister of Nepal at a suitable convenient date. I don't know what the modality is exactly under which he said this. But yes, I've also heard that he has expressed a desire to visit India and I'm sure we would be happy to welcome him when he comes. And it has been a practice, that on various occasions, Nepal leaders as well as some of other neighbouring countries’ leaders, they try to come to India as their first foreign visit. And I think it's a reflection of the relations, the strong relations between India and Nepal. So, I don't have an update yet. I certainly will not be in a position to speculate whether anybody's going to give a formal invitation or not. But obviously, we would welcome his visit.

Abhishek, you had referred to a statement recently by Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia. I wasn't sure how we could comment on it in any which way, in the sense, it was a comment, it was his assessment of the world. Let me just make the overall point that, look, our relations with different countries stand on own merit. We have good relations with various countries, with various organizations and groups across the world. And we evaluate them, treat them on their own merit. And so, I wouldn’t like to link it with one group or versus the other. And I'm not sure, I would be in a position to fully concur with what you have said. But again, I don't know if that's an actual quote. So, my comment is very simple. Our relations with our partners stand on own merit and we deal with them separately.

Vijayalakshmi ji aapka prashn tha i think pradhanmantri Shehbaz Sharif wale comment mein, unhonne koi interview ke dauran ye comment kar rahe hain? Dekhiye, hamne woh comment dekhen hai, hamne ye bhi dekha ki usake baad Pradhanmantri karyalay ne kuchh usake tippani ya clarification di. Hamane kuchh dinon pahale aur comments dekhe the kuchh aur Pakistani leaders ke madhyam se, netaon ne kuchh comment kiye the. To, isliye main sure nahi hun aap kiss comment mein comment chahte hai kyonki unhonne kuchh kaha, unke PMO ne kuchh kaha, kuchh usake baad PMO ne clarification de di hai toh woh kitna jayaz, kitna correct hai. Main sirf ye keh raha hoon, hamari jo position hai main sirf usi ko doharaaunga ki hamane kaha hai ki hum hamesha normal neighbourly relation chahte hai Pakistan ke saath, par ek conducive atmosphere honi chahiye jismen terror ya hostility ya violence na ho. Toh hamari position vahi hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Vijaylakshmi ji, your question was I think regarding comments made by the Pakistan Prime Minister during an interview. We have also seen subsequent clarifications by Pakistan PMO as well as comments by other Pakistan leaders in the recent past. I am not sure what you would like us to respond to. Let me reiterate that India’s position has remained clear and consistent – we desire normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in a conducive atmosphere that is free of terror, hostility and violence.

Pranay Upadhyay: Sir Pranay Upadhyay ABP News se. 13 janavari ki sham ko Bharat Myanmar sima ke karib Myanmar Air Force ki ek karvai hui. Usmen reports hai ki hamare border ke kuch ilako mein bhi kuchh damage hua hai to, us mamle ko lekar kya bharat sarkar ne Myanmar sarkar ke saath koi baat ki hai aur kya factual positions hain? Kya kuchh damage hua hai ya nahi hua hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir Pranay Upadhyay from ABP News. On the evening of January 13, a military action by the Myanmar Air Force took place near the Indo-Myanmar border, in which there are reports that there has been some damage in some of our border areas. So, has the Indian government held any talks with the Myanmar government on that matter and what’s the factual position? Has some damage occurred or not?

Smita Sharma: Just a follow up, I'm kind of confused as to how can a documentary be labelled as propaganda if it has not been viewed in India as you say? And also, very specific question, I mean the documentary does show the former Foreign Secretary of UK then, Jack Straw on record saying that there is this cable that exists, internal report that exists. Does India confirm or deny this report? Is India taking this up?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Which report? Be specific.

Smita Sharma: The report on the Gujarat riots of 2002. The report that Mr. Jack Straw refers to in the documentary that there is an internal cable of the UK Government.

Kallol: I’m Kallol from Hindu. The BBC documentary also says that the Gujarat riots actually led to the killing of UK citizens of Indian origin. So, did the UK government ever take this up with the Indian government before? The death of UK citizens in the Gujarat riots?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You mean take up as in what, as a legal thing?

Kallol: Legal thing for the sake of justice or damage, diplomatically you know.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson:
I’m not sure you're asking the right question. Why would they take a case diplomatically for a death?

Kallol: I mean their citizens like dying in a…

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Your question is a very broad one. I'll try to answer.

Sanjana Sharma: Main Sanjana Sharma Sanmarg se hoon. Bharat ki videshaneeti vasudhaiv kutumbakam hai aur Pakistan mein jo aaj kal khane ke liye bhi bahut sankat hai to bharat usake adhar par koi madad dega, pahunchaega kya Pakistan ko? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) I am Sanjana Sharma from Sanmarg. India's foreign policy is Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam and there is a lot of crisis for food in Pakistan today, will India provide any help to Pakistan on that basis?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Khane ki baat kar rahe hain ya kuch aur? Ok Atta. (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) You are talking about food or something else. Ok, wheat flour.

Speaker 1: Sir kya Islamic emirates of Afghanistan ne apne representative ko Delhi men niyukt karane ke lie koi communication kiya hai bharat sarkar se aur agar haan to usaki sthiti kya hai? Main Taliban ke baaren mein keh raha hoon ki kya taliban apne representative ko bharat men niyukt karna chahta hai, kya is bare mein koi communication bharat sarkar ke saath hua hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) Sir, has the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan made any communication with the Government of India to appoint its representative in Delhi and if so, what is its status? I am talking about the Taliban whether it wants to appoint its representative in India. Has there been any communication with the Government of India about this?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Pranay aapka prashn tha India-Myanmar border ke baare mein 13 janavari ka aap koi reference kar rahe the. 13 janavari ka to mujhe kuchh malum nahi, mere pass jo information hai woh tha ki 10 janavari ko vahan pe ek air operations ho rahi thee 10 se 11 janavari ko. Hamare simavarti sector mein Myanmar ne koi air operations kiye the close area pe. Hamane ye confirm kiya tha ki hamari air space ka koi violation nahi hui hai per 10 janavari ko mere information ke mutabik ek bum gira tha Tiau river bed par, jo vahan pe India-Myanmar border pe hai, Farkawn village, Champhai district mein hai. Aise incident hamare liye concern ki baat hai aur ye chinta ki baat hai aur hamane ye matter Myanmar side se take-up kar liya hai. (Answered in Hindi; approximate Translation) Pranay you were referring to some incident on Indo-Myanmar border on January 13. I do not know anything about January 13. But we are aware that Myanmar has carried out air operations close to our border in Mizoram sector on 10 and 11 January. We have ascertained that there has been no air space violation. We understand that on 10 January, a bomb fell in the Tiau riverbed at the India Myanmar Border (IMB), near Farkawn village in the Champhai District of Mizoram. Such incidents near our border are of concern to us. We have taken up the matter with Myanmar side.

Smita and Kallol, I will try to answer both your questions. Look, you can't have it both ways. I am confirming that this, as far as I know, is not available for viewing here. Ideally, the question shouldn't have been asked to me. But people are happy to ask me a question on something which is not to be viewed in India. That’s because we have a High Commission, we have information of that video. So that is not being screened here, I am repeating it again. We think it's a propaganda piece. Our assessment is that it is a propaganda piece. Now, you are saying, how can you say that? I'm saying it. We have seen it and I feel it's a propaganda piece. I don't know, what's the difference in perspective? You could say it's not aired here. True. But I am happily answering questions here. I'm happy to say it's not aired in India and I could say that I have no comment to make. But since you asked, I'm responding to it. The separate question you had about the comments by former Foreign Secretary and something about reports that he's referring to. Look, he seems to be referring to some internal UK report. How do I have access to that? And it's a 20-year-old report. Why would I just jump into it now? Just because Jack Straw says it, how does it lend it that much legitimacy. I heard words like inquiry and investigation. There is a reason we used the word colonial mindset. We don't use words loosely. What inquiry? They were diplomats here. Investigation… are they ruling the country? I am sorry, I do not agree with that characterization. And obviously there is an agenda behind it.

UK citizens’ death… look, if there are deaths here, in our country, these are followed by our legal procedure. Whether they took it up in 2002? Look, I don't have a ready answer. I wasn't around. And I'll have to check whether it was taken up. Whether it was formally taken up or not, whether legal systems were followed. But as you very well know, there has been a lot of legal process against deaths that have happened during that time. I wouldn't be able to answer whether it was taken up or not without checking the facts on that.

Sanjana ji aapne prashn kiya tha ki aata bhej rahe hain ya nahi? Achchha aata ki bata nahi. Ok so dekhiye, unhonne poochha hai kya? I am not sure ki hamare paas aaya hai aur koi natural calamity bhi nahi aai hai. Matlab kuch particular mere pass koi aisa khabar nahi hai. Generally kah sakte hain, par mere paas kuchh aisa khabar nahi hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sanjana ji, you asked whether we are sending wheat flour or not? Ok, you question was broader, not limited to wheat flour. Look, have they asked for it? I am not sure that we have received any request. And there is no natural calamity. I do not have any particular information. Generally speaking, you can say. But I do not have any such information.

Dekhiye, aap jaisa janate hai, we do not recognize them, I wanted to clarify, aapne kaha tha Islamic Emirate something. Dekhiye hamara ek technical team hai jo sahayata vahan deti hai, humanitarian assistance vahan deti hai. Mere pass koi detailed khabar nahi hai ki unhone koi aisa request kiya hoga. Dekhiye, hamare koi vaise diplomatic relation hai nahi to unka jo aap kah rahe hai niyukt karana koi representative, I think iske dayre ke bahar aata hai. Hamare technical team hai vahan pay. Na hamne koi diplomatic representative is tarah se bheja hai, na unhonne yahan pe rakha hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translations) See, as you know we do not recognize them, I wanted to clarify, you said Islamic Emirate something. See we have a technical team that provides humanitarian assistance there. I don't have any detailed information that they have made such a request. See, we do not have a diplomatic relationship. So, appointment of their representative, which you are saying comes outside the scope. Our technical team is there. We have not sent any diplomatic representative in this way nor they have deputed here.

Nivedita: This is Nivedita from Sunday Guardian. My question is on the EAM’s remarks on G20 at the Voice of Global South. He mentioned developing a framework for food, energy and a green development pact. So has there been any further progress on this and any further action?

Mukesh Kaushik: Sir, this is Mukesh Kaushik from Dainik Bhaskar. Sir, a week after technical talks between Bhutan and China takes place, our Foreign Secretary is visiting Bhutan, and months after survey vessel of China visits Sri Lanka, our External Affairs Minister is visiting Colombo. Do you think our diplomatic train for damage control is reaching a little bit late?

Nayanima: Nayanima from ABP Live. I just want to understand, has there been any conversation between EAM Jaishankar with the new Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang? Thank you.

Smita: The letter that has been sent from our Finance Ministry as an IMF assurance for Sri Lanka - Is India hopeful that this will really kind of help in the bailout process. If you could shed some more light on that?

Brahmprakash: Sir Bramhprakash hoon Zee News se, mera sawal hai kya videsh mantralay ka jo email server hai wo hack kiya gaya hai, kuchh hackers ne ye dawa kiya hai. Zee News key taraf say 11 December ko aapke pass woh detail bhi bheja gaya tha. (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir Brahmaprakash from Zee News. My question is whether the email server of the Ministry of External Affairs has been hacked, some hackers have claimed. The detail was also sent to you on December 11 by Zee News.

Avinash: Sir, Avinash from the Asahi Shimbun. China has said that its population has come down for the first time. And there are reports that India have already become the largest population country. So how do you see this?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson:
Look, Nivedita Ji statement by EAM…It's too early for us to give details. But as you would appreciate, we are now the G20 Presidency, we will try to put forth new initiatives or ideas that we have. One of the elements, as we said, of holding this Voice of Global South Summit, was to elicit suggestions, perspectives, concerns from the developing world. And this was something that from our perspective, that came out. We will certainly share with you more details once it's a little more fleshed out and we will present it. It'll be premature to talk about it now. But yes, it shows indication of points of where we would like to work towards.

Mukesh Kaushik, I loved your last line - Train of diplomacy reaching late. I must remember that for future. Unfortunately, look, if we had gone before these talks happened, then you would have said, Oh, you know, they already planting it or something. Look, no time is good time or any time is good time. I don't know how to answer. Let me just put in context on both these issues that you raised. On China and Bhutan, you know, this thing happened in Kunming, that's what you're referring to. Look, this is going on since 1984, right? Something like that, the talks. We've noted this development, but that doesn't mean we should or should not go. Our Foreign Secretary is there currently, as part of what we used to call planned talks, but subsequently are now been expanded to call the development cooperation talks. This basically gives you a structured idea of what are the issues and projects that both sides will look at and jointly try to organize and the Bhutanese will implement. This will be the fourth such meeting I think the Foreign Secretary is attending. This the fourth meeting, I think this is his first. And he will also call on the Bhutanese leadership. The visit is still on, so let me not prejudge what might be discussed. As regards Sri Lanka, again, I'm not linking it to anything. I mean, I would appreciate it if you said it was linked to the announcement regarding maybe financing assurances. But with that ship…The ship will come, the ship will go. I don't think we should link it to such stuff. External Affairs Minister has just landed in Colombo. We will keep you updated. He usually puts out himself directly through tweets or otherwise in other mechanisms. We will let you know what happens. Again, his conversations there are going to be wide ranging. He's going to meet a large section of the political leadership. He is also going to look at some projects etc. But let it happen.

Smita, you asked about the element of IMF assurance. Look, this is something we've been saying all through. We would like to be supportive. We have been supportive bilaterally in assistance. There is an important element now of debt, having a sustainable debt framework and a structure for Sri Lanka. The IMF is leading that. As part of that, they wanted financing assurances from other creditors. We have done that. We have formally sent it to the IMF. And I think that information has been made public by the Sri Lankan side. And we are hopeful that this would help Sri Lanka, not just this, the conversation with the IMF would help, you know, close this deal if you'd like to call it that way, and actually make a change in how the debt is restructured, additional financing comes in, and Sri Lanka is able to move to a path of more sustainable financial and fiscal management.

Nayanima, your question regarding EAM… I'm not aware of it to be honest, I hope I'm not caught out wrong and External Affairs Minister after I leave this meeting says - Oh, I did speak to him. But as far as I know, there has not been an occasion on which he has spoken. But if there is a change, I will apologize and come back and give you the correct picture.

Bramhprakash ji aap hacking ki baat kar rahe the right, hamare website ya email ya kuchh server ka, aapko kaise malum tha? Aapko pata kaise laga ya pata kaise hai ya aisa aapko ye khabar kaise? Aapne kah 10 tarikh ko... (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Brahmaprakash ji, you were talking about hacking right, of our website or email or some server, how did you know? How do you know, how do you have this news?

Brahmprakash: Wo hackers ne jo jankari di thi. (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) The information that the hackers gave.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Han, bech rahe the woh, bech rahe the. Dekhiye, let me just say ki hamare mantralay mein security mechanism hai or cyber security hum bahut hi seriously lete hai. Or koi bhi breach ka allegation ho usko bhi bahut hi seriously lete hai. Or hum NIC ke saath kaam karte hai, woh servers woh maintain karte hai. Or other technical agencies bhi hai uske saath hum discuss karte hai, chhanbin karte hai, usaka investigation hota hai. Security implications ke tahat main aapko specific incident mein comment nahi kar paaunga. Kyonki na han kahunga aur na na kahunga kyonki usmen implications hai. Par aapko ye ashvasan dena chahta hoon ki hum bhi aise allegation ya incidents ko bahut seriously lete hain, yahaan tak simit rakhana chahta hoon. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Yes, they were selling. Our Ministry has in place robust mechanisms for cyber security and we take reports of any breach seriously. We work with NIC, they maintain our servers. Such incidents are also looked into by concerned technical agencies. Due to security implications, I would not be in a position to comment on any specific incident. But I want to assure you that we take such alleged incidents very seriously. I want to limit myself to it here.

I don't know how to answer your question, Avinash Ji. I think I will quote what EAM said. I think EAM said it a few days ago. EAM was asked whether this is a statistic or there is more to it. And he put it very nicely, which is that it is a statistic, but it's also an important statistic. It is an important statistic if we are the largest country in the world, we are the most populated, we are 1/6th of humanity. I think the global institutions should reflect that. I think our presence, our voice on institutions of global governance should reflect that. But other than that, I don't think this is the statistic that we are tracking or makes that much difference. I hope that our large population, we'd be able to use it to actually support global growth for decades to come. But that's my own personal view.

Akhilesh Suman: Sir, I’m Akhilesh Suman from Sansad TV. It is a follow up of the Afghanistan question which Madhurendra has asked. There is an Afghanistan Embassy here in Delhi. So what is the status of that Embassy? And do we plan to send any envoy to Afghanistan as an ambassador?

Shalinder: Sir Shalinder Wangu hoon News 18 se. Abdul Rehman Makki ko lekar hum aapka comment dekh chuke hai, aapne isape react kiya tha. Lekin kya hua ki cheen ne apna technical hold hata liya. Plus char aur aise log hai jinpar technical hold China ne rakh rakha hai. To kya hum ummeed karen ki is saal mein un charo pe hum unko aatanki ghoshit kar payenge UNSC mein, bharat jo efforts laga raha hai ismen. (Questioned in Hindi; approximate translation) Sir Shalinder, from News 18. We have seen your comment about Abdul Rehman Makki, you reacted to it. But what has happened that made China remove its technical hold? Also, there four more people on whose listing, China has put the technical hold. So can we expect that in this year we will be able to declare them as terrorists in the UNSC, the efforts that India is putting into it.

Preeti: I’m Preeti, independent journalist. So, the EAM is on the visit to Maldives.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson:
No right now he is in Sri Lanka. He has just arrived in Colombo.

Preeti: So this is regarding Maldives. Apart from the development projects we've offered them and we're working there. There is a big LoC also which has been given to Maldives. So has work permit for Indians been also talked about, and also any defence assistance like earlier we have gifted them helicopters. So any kind of that discussions that have happened with Maldives?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You clearly don't believe in privileged communication between leaders. But I'll try to answer your question to the extent possible.

Shrinjoy: Sir, Times Now. There have been reports about an Indian professor, who was very badly treated by Pakistani diplomats.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: In the High Commission here.

Shrinjoy: Yes, in the High Commission here. Could you tell us what the MEA and the Indian government have done on this issue?

Sudhi Ranjan: Sudhi Ranjan from Bloomberg. On the BBC documentary issue, the documentary is available on YouTube. Do you think government of India is going to ask Youtube to take it down? Is that what is in the horizon or being thought of? Thank you, Sir.

Smita: On the Indians in Qatar, is there any update? Do we know what are the charges against them so far?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Akhilesh as I said, we don't have diplomatic relations with the governing structures in Afghanistan. So obviously, till such time happens, ambassadors don't go. So let me rule that out clearly. The exact status of Afghan Embassy here - it flies the flag, they run their operations here. I will leave it at that. We do deal with it.

Shalinder aapka prashn, pehla part mujhe kyon pooch rahe hai ?Aur China kahan se aa gai, maine toh nahi kaha ki China ne rok rakhi thi, aap kah rahe hai. Ek country ne technical hold diya tha, ho sakta hai us country ne hi nikaal diya ho woh hold. Toh aap unse pooch lijiye jo bhi country hai jinhonne diya tha woh hold. Aapka dusra part kya tha sawal ka ki aage baki char…Yakinan hum push karte rahenge ki baki jo char hai, abhi hamane jo hamare presidency ke dauran hamane jo paanch naam diye the, woh baki char ko ko hum listing ke liye hum poori prayatn jo hum kar sakte hai vo karenge. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Shalinder, why you are asking me the first part? I did not say that China has put the technical hold, you are saying it. A country had put the technical hold. Maybe that country has removed that hold. So you ask that country, whichever it is, that had put the technical hold. What was your second part of the question that the next four… Of course, we will continue to push for their listing. We will try our best to ensure listing of the remaining four out of five names that we had submitted during our presidency.

Preeti, you had referred to the just finished visit of EAM. Visit has just finished, I don't have a full readout yet. Let me just explain to you that from our understanding. Look, relationship with Maldives is a very special relationship. EAM’s visit was part of the development partnership. Also to discuss with the leadership, the regular consultations that happen. This time interestingly if you noticed he had gone to the northern atolls, he normally has been with going more to the capital, etc. on the South, but this was the North. One of the biggest projects was this Hanimaadhoo International Airport, which was set up. This is going to be the largest infrastructure development project there. So that is going to be very important. I think he also inaugurated a community centre in Foakaidhoo. He, of course, met the President, the Foreign Minister and other leaders. I think he put it very nicely in one of his tweets, that we are a committed partner of Maldives for progress and transformation. During the visit, during his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Maldives, I think MoUs were signed or exchanged. On community development projects, we gave more money. That wasn’t LOC, those are grant projects. We have promised to build a sports complex. There was something between Cochin University and the Maldives National University - academic collaboration agreement. And with the defence you mentioned ,we have, I think given two sea ambulances this time, that was announced. We also have given a gift of 10,000 books to Maldives’ schools. So that's broadly the overall context of it. I would have to check whether work permits were discussed. Let EAM come back. But he hasn't made it public. But look, our conversation covers a lot of issues and Indian workers in Maldives are important part of that relationship. But I don't know whether we need to have a separate conversation or not. Defence… I don't have any particular update on that.

Shrinjoy, your question was on regarding an allegation or a report of sexual harassment of an Indian citizen inside the Pakistan High Commission premises. Look, Ministry has taken serious note of this complaint. We have raised the issue with Pakistani authorities and we have asked them to investigate the matter. We have also seen in recent days a statement by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry saying that they are looking into the case. For the moment, that's all I can share with you.

Dekhiye inhone inaka ek prashn tha sexual harassment complaint ke baaren mein, ek Indian citizen jo Pakistani High Commission mein gai thee. Mantralaya aise complain ko aur is complaint ko badi gambhirata se dekhti hai, leti hai. Hamane Pakistani adhikariyon ke samaksh ye mudda uthaya hai aur unse is mamle ki janch karne ke liye kaha hai. Aur kuchh dinon pehle maine dekha ki Pakistani foreign ministry ne ek bayaan dyai hai ki vo is mamle ka jaanch kar rahe hai. Abhi ke liye itana hi main share kar sakta hoon. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Your question was about a sexual harassment complaint by an Indian citizen who went to the Pakistani High Commission. Ministry has taken serious note of this complaint. We have raised the issue with Pakistani authorities and we have asked them to investigate the matter. We have also seen in recent days a statement by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry saying that they are looking into the case. For the moment, that's all I can share with you.

Before I come to Sudhi’s question. On the Qatar query, I think Smita you raised that Qatar query. Look, I don't have too much of an update, but some update I do have this week. Let me make a statement that - We continue to pursue the matter of their early release and repatriation. We are also facilitating visits and meetings for family members with the detained Indian nationals. This week, the third round of consular access took place. I think one of the lawyers attended it also along with our High Commission, and Embassy Officials. During this third consular access, the wellbeing of Indian Nationals was ascertained, and let me reiterate government continues to attach high priority to this matter.

Sudhi, your query was whether there are plans to… Look, I haven't gotten around checking out on social media. We are not the agency which controls the access to social media. You need to ask the concerned Ministries. I was told it's not for viewing here. That's not our decision. It's a BBC decision. I will leave it at that. It might have a short-lived life because if there are IPR violations on screening it in non-approved jurisdictions, they tend to get shut. But look, I'm not aware of details at this moment. Thank you very much. Thanks to all for joining this special briefing.

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