L’affaire Tanvi Seth: MEA Must Come Clean

Caesar’s wife must be above board but what would you say when the judge pronounces the judgement without hearing the arguments? This is what has happened L’affaire Tanvi Seth. By releasing the report of the so-called enquiry after fifteen days after the incident, the External Affairs Ministry has not inspired any confidence in the public. The report has held the passport official of Lucknow guilty of misbehaving and asking irrelevant questions from her, but it leaves many questions unanswered. It may be recalled that hurt by the searching questions of the passport officer regarding her different names and different addresses, the passport seeker Tanvi Seth twitted to the External Affairs Minister Ms Sushma Swaraj, who immediately swung into action and virtually in a jiffy took two decisions. One; the lady concerned was called the next day and the passport officer handed over her passport and apologized for the alleged misbehaviour of the official. And the second was that the concerned passport officer was transferred from Lucknow to Gorakhpur without any enquiry. Although the ‘transfer’ under the employment law is not a punishment yet the way it was effectuated was certainly humiliating and highly injurious to the honour and dignity of the officer.

Now after a fortnight, it is being told that the passport officer Mishra was at fault, but if it was so, why the country was kept in dark for more than two weeks? This gives enough doubt that the enquiry report is manufactured one to justify the hasty action of the Minister. Such types wishy-washy enquiries erode the credibility of the government and cast serious doubts about its functioning in the eyes of the public.

Even the cursory reading of the report which has appeared in newspapers leads to serious apprehensions. While it tells that the passport officer asked awkward questions from Tanvi Seth but it is absolutely silent on the facts as to why there was hanky-panky in her conduct right from the beginning? Therefore, if some people are raising doubts that she could be used as a pawn in the hands of terrorists, then it cannot be outrightly dismissed and discounted.

There are innumerable examples where Hindu girls have been roped in by the Muslim boys and used for undesirable activities in the country. The case of Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in an encounter in Gujarat, is a burning example of the nefarious design of the anti-national forces. She was born as Pranesh Kumari Pillai, seduced and married to a Muslim extremist and thereafter made to work for the Laskar-e-Toiba. The similar case has been witnessed recently, when Akhila, the only daughter of Ashokan was cajoled and converted to Islam, with the help of PFI activists. This issue has come into so much public glare that now there is little possibility of her becoming a tool into the hands of terrorists. However, the report of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) submitted to the Supreme Court cannot be glossed over, which has said that the girls of other faiths are being systematically converted to Islam, which some term it as the ‘Love Jihad’. Who knows that the way Tanvi Seth behaved herself would not be misused for the purposes that are dangerous to the country? Therefore, this matter should not be swept under the carpet but needs to be thoroughly investigated.

It is also very strange that some people who have voiced against the action of the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj are being dubbed as trollers. Every criticism cannot be trolling. Every public figure should be prepared to face the scrutiny of the public. So, if there is a criticism of her hasty action, she should try to rectify it instead of playing the victim card. Of course, abusing, slandering and making inflammatory statements against her must be denounced by one and all but she should show by her action that if ‘justice’ has been done to the lady, no injustice should be done to the passport officer.

Social media has now become enormously powerful, which can be trenchant in its criticism of the public figures but, in all fairness, she must give a convincing explanation of this episode instead of becoming unnecessarily touchy.

She must also tell the country as to why she took the unilateral decision against the passport officer without giving him an opportunity to tell his side of the story, which flies into the face of the canons of the natural justice?