The controversy regarding the visa issued by GOI to Dolkun Issa (or Isa), the Uyghur dissident residing in Germany gets curiouser by the moment with MEA washing its hands of the matter and blaming the Home Ministry for the snafu. Whether or not Home Ministry is the clearing authority at the Delhi end, the fact is the visitor’s or tourist visa is still stamped by the consular section of the Indian Embassy/Consulate General, and the ambassador in Germany would have known of Isa’s antecedents and his political notoriety. If the embassy was party to issuing the visa, MEA cannot then absolve itself of responsibility. If it has a black list or, it had decided, with the Dharamsala conference in view and Isa’s seeking entry, that it was a good occasion for some tit-for-tat with China in response to the latter’s protecting the Pakistani terrorist Mahmood Azar from Interpol, then why did it have second thoughts and, more important, when did it have them? Apparently MEA/GOI went weak-kneed immediately upon Beijing’s clearing its throat on the issue. The Home Ministry, in the event, was just a convenient scapegoat.
Rather than getting its tail immediately between its legs, the Modi government could have been snarky, sarcastic and dismissive of the “red” interpol notice. Beijing could have been reminded by MEA spokesman that, perhaps, its truculence would be better directed at Berlin, which has not implemented China’s red notice despite Isa living in Germany for many years. And, perhaps, the Chinese government should consider first handing over Paresh Barua, the Assamese secessionist, sheltered in Kunming (when last heard of). In this respect, some genius (unattributed source) in GOI brought up the matter of how the Mumbai gangster Abu Salim was secured from Portugal on the basis of an Interpol red notice, and how India’s ignoring it with respect to Isa would sully India’s reputation, etc, which’s so much poppycock. If Indian government officials are unable to distinguish a hardened low life from the Mumbai underworld from a leader of the ‘East Turkestan Freedom Movement’ than they need a stiff dose of re-education with transfer to some god-forsaken malarial jungle outpost or the waterless Thar.
But more to the point, New Delhi/MEA could have educated China in the nuances of the red colour notice (part of six colour-coded notice scheme Interpol follows to track and apprehend trans-national criminals) to the effect that “criminals” by Interpol’s reckoning cannot be equated with political dissidents and the politically oppressed and escapees from the Chinese Gulag. MEA responded with none of this except quickly to rescind Isa’s visa.
Interpol and more advanced democracies never take red corner notices on political opponents of dastardly regimes seriously. Reason why Germany has paid such Chinese notice no heed. There’s Interpol’s own legal reservation on this count that New Delhi could have cited. Not too long ago, the Russian government issued a red corner notice on Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, for his arrest. Interpol refused to do so, saying the request was “predominantly political in nature and therefore contrary to INTERPOL’s rules and regulations”.
It is clear Berlin knows Interpol rules and regulations and MEA/Indian government does not. Or more likely, New Delhi is more afraid of upsetting Beijing than violating an Interpol convention. With GOI concerned about saving China’s face than furthering India’s strategic interests, which lie principally in stoking the Free Tibet and Free East Turkestan (Sinkiang or Xinjiang) Causes, Beijing will always have India over the barrel.