Majed Hassan Ashoor, First Secretary at the Saudi Arabia Embassy in India, escaped into the night only days after he was accused of using two Nepali maids as sex slaves. Activists descended upon the embassy when the news broke.
“We learn that Saudi embassy first secretary, Majed Hassan Ashoor, who is allegedly accused of abusing 2 Nepali maids, has left India,” said the Ministry of External Affairs. “The first secretary being a diplomat is governed by the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”
The Hindu Times reported his sudden exodus “appears to be part of a diplomatic bargain struck between India and Saudi Arabia after the high-level intervention of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.” Former Foreign Secretary Maharaj Krishna Rasgotra admitted that Saudi Arabia is too important to India right now “due to the global circumstances,” but did not provide details. He also could not be “tried under Indian law unless the Saudis ‘waved’ his immunity.”
Activists are demanding justice for the maids.
“The External Affairs Ministry has allowed the Nepali maids to return home where they were further humiliated as their families have disowned them,” declared Ruchira Gupta with Apne Aap International, a group that aims to end sex trafficking. “India should not have deserted the Nepali maids who have been distanced from the investigating authorities in India due to the stealthy and hurried repatriation.”
In early September, Ashoor and his wife were accused of holding two Nepali women, aged 30 and 50, as sex slaves. The FIR (First Information Report) stated “the two women had been lured to India with a false promise of jobs, and then sold to the diplomat.” Ashoor and his wife held these women for three months and took them on a trip to Saudi Arabia. The women told authorities “they were repeatedly raped and forced to perform ‘unnatural sex’ for the diplomat and other Saudi nationals, often at knife-point.”
Another Nepali victim told a Nepalese NGO about these two women. The NGO then alerted the Gurgaon—the top financial city in India—police about the story:
The victims, residents of Banglung and Biratnagar districts in Nepal, said they had been lured by a woman trafficker to Delhi four months ago on the promise of a job and handsome salary in Saudi Arabia. The two were, however, sold to another agent in Delhi for Rs.1 lakh each and then to the Saudi diplomat, who they identified as ‘Majid’. “Majid first took the two women to Saudi Arabia. The abuse continued after he returned with them to Delhi three months ago and kept them in captivity at his DLF house,” said Bal Krishan, the president of Maiti Nepal India.
The ordeal of the two women came to light when another woman sold to the diplomat 10 days ago managed to escape and alerted Maiti Nepal India that works in the areas of prostitution, trafficking and child labour. The NGO contacted the Nepal embassy and a letter was written to the Gurgaon police in this regard.
“Despite the terrible nature of the crime, unless the Saudi Arabian government waives it, the immunity will protect them completely,” an official said at the time.