Road rage sparks minor India-Pakistan diplomatic row (Roundup)

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) Pakistan reacted angrily Tuesday after one of its diplomats and his driver were allegedly thrashed here in a road rage case that triggered a minor diplomatic row.

Islamabad summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner to lodge a strong protest even as Delhi Police arrested the motorcyclist and his woman companion who were knocked down by the Pakistani diplomat’s car.

The Pakistani angst did not appear to be directed at the Indian government but it warned that “such incidents are uncalled for, unnecessary and do not augur well for the overall bilateral relations, especially at a time when the leadership of the two countries is desirous of improving and normalizing relations”.

The incident sparked off a volley of statements between India and Pakistan Tuesday, at a time when the two countries are trying to forge better ties following the Pakistani general elections.

Pakistan also summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Baglay to express “serious concerns” over the manhandling of its official in New Delhi following the accident, hours after the Indian foreign secretary called up his counterpart “to express his regrets” over the unfortunate incident.

Zirgham Raza, first secretary (trade) and his driver Haider Zaman suffered “minor bruises” in a scuffle that followed after his car hit a motorcycle in south Delhi Monday evening when he was returning to his Vasant Kunj house. The two also sustained injuries from the fall.

Motorcycle driver Rohit, also known as Goldie, 30, and his aunt Roshini, in her 40s, were arrested Tuesday.

Police have filed cases against the two motorcycle riders for rash and negligent driving, causing hurt, endangering life or personal safety of others and wrongfully restraining another person.

The incident occured in South Delhi’s Ber Sarai when the diplomat’s car bearing a diplomatic number plate of the Pakistan High Commission hit the motorcycle near JNU campus, the ministry of external affairs said in a statement.

“Subsequently, the driver of the car and the motorcyclist had an altercation and reportedly a scuffle ensued wherein the Pakistan High Commission driver and the diplomat suffered minor injuries. Police responded promptly to calls for assistance and escorted the diplomats to safety from the crowd of onlookers who had gathered at the site of incident,” the statement said.

But the Pakistan foreign office said the two officials had been “physically abused”.

In a statement, the Pakistan foreign office said: “The Indian Foreign Secretary had also called Foreign Secretary (Jalil Abbas) Jilani to express his regrets over this unfortunate incident and assured him that the matter would be thoroughly investigated.”

“In this regard he informed Foreign Secretary Jilani that two persons involved in this incident had already been arrested and an FIR had been lodged,” the statement said.

But New Delhi said the issue of expressing regret “did not arise”.

The ministry of external affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai had called up Jilani and said that “it was a traffic accident” and “and that their concerns about security will be addressed”.

Mathai told him that “action has been taken” in the case, he told IANS.

According to him, Baglay was summoned to reiterate the same concerns.

The Pakistan foreign office called upon India “to ensure that such incidents do not recur and reminded the Indian government of its obligation under diplomatic conventions and norms of providing adequate safety and security of all Pakistan High Commission personnel, premises and vehicles.”

The Indian side said Mathai also informed Jilani that action had already been taken in the traffic accident with the arrest of two people.

“The call was made in the context of need to ensure high-level contact at a time when the Pakistani High Commissioner to India was in Islamabad and the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad was in Delhi for consultations,” the statement said.

Delhi Police extended the Pakistan High Commission officials due courtesies and escorted them to the AIIMS trauma centre and offered medical assistance and examination.

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