NEW DELHI: The two Indian traders, who are at the centre of a trade dispute, were safely ensconced in Shanghai, though their prospects of returning home were bleak till the court case in the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu ran its course, Ministry of External Affairs said here on Thursday.
“Yes, we could inform you that the traders are in Shanghai,” said MEA’s office on special duty (external publicity) Syed Akbaruddin.
The two Indian traders, Deepak Raheja and Shyamsunder Agarwal, had claimed that they had been kidnapped by local Chinese traders and ‘tortured’ since December, as the owner of their company, a Yemeni national, had decamped without paying their dues, running into thousands of dollars.
Akbaruddin, however, declined to disclose where the two traders were staying. “We do not want to disclose their location for obvious reasons because they are in a state of shock, and it is best that they are in a safe and secure place and are in touch with our consulate… But they are safe, we could assure you,” he added. On the return of the Indian nationals, he made it clear that they could only return to India after the civil litigation case was resolved.
He added that the Indian consulate in Shanghai was providing all assistance as per norms provided to Indian nationals in such situation. “We could assure you that all possible assistance will be provided to them in accordance with our usual procedures there. The consulate continues to be regularly following up this matter and we in the ministry here are monitoring it. So, let us see how it goes,” he said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry meanwhile chided New Delhi subtly for its earlier advisory asking Indian nationals to keep away from Yiwu, noting that that India had to ‘positively educate’ its citizens about doing business in China. He also denied that the Indian traders had been held hostage in the Yiwu hotel. “During their stay in Yiwu, they were put up in hotels and allowed to act freely, and their security was not hindered when they went out to eat,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei claimed.