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Indian wedding snowballs into diplomatic tussle with South Africa

Published: 03rd May 2013 08:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd May 2013 08:24 AM   |  A+A-

The Indian high commission in South Africa is in the midst of political firestorm, with the South African government now probing to check if any diplomatic privileges were “abused” in allowing an influential local Indian family to land their plane, loaded with wedding guest at a military base.

On Tuesday, a Jet Airway chartered flight landed at Waterkloof air force base near Pretoria.

On board the plane were certain high-profile guests, including Uttar Pradesh Urban Development Minister Azam Khan, Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey and PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, media reports said.

They had come to attend the wedding of Vega Gupta, niece of media and information technology tycoon Atul Gupta who has close ties with South African President Jacob Zuma.

International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said preliminary investigations show no permission was given for the airplane to land but the South African Defence Forces said permission was to the Indian High Commission and not the Gupta family.

The same was confirmed by the representatives of the Gupta family who said requisite permission was sought by the Indian High Commission.

The controversy snowballed on Thursday with a senior diplomat suspended and President Jacob Zuma deciding not to attend ‘marriage of the century’.

The guest list at the wedding also included Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor and Esha Gupta and singers Sonu Nigam, Shankar Mahadevan and Kailash Kher according to media reports.

Sources here told Express that the High Commission had informed South African authorities that since passengers included ministers, there should be adequate security when the plane lands.  - With agency inputs



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