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December 21, 2011

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PLEASE READ: Letter from Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group

Dear Friends and Supporters of Chintan,

A UAE Embassy diplomat in Delhi forcibly impounded the cycle rickshaw of a wastepicker associated with Safai Sena and Chintan both, in Chanakyapuri. He was returning after collecting waste from the homes of India’s Members of Parliament in South Avenue, Delhi. The wastepicker had hit his car, but not damaged it. The driver took away the rickshaw. The embassy authorities refused to release it when Chintan’s representative went to meet them. Instead, he was asked to get out. The diplomat again demanded Rs. 3000 and threatened the wastepicker with jail if he did not produce that money. The wastepicker lost his entire day’s earnings.

Chintan subsequently wrote the enclosed letter to the Ambassador. After it was delivered, we got a call from the Diplomatic Security Division, saying that the embassy had thrown the rickshaw out on the road, and that we should collect it in 30 minutes or it would be in police custody. The police took his side and said, “Should the Ambassador look after your rickshaw? It is such a small thing.”

We believe this is an outrageous example of misusing diplomatic immunity, bullying the poor and violating human rights-a concept that the UAE is unfamiliar with in any case. Besides, is this what UAE wants to offer its host country?

At Chintan, we have decided to turn to you to remind the ambassador and the embassy that every human has rights. We want to help him remember to appreciate and respect the humble wastepicker, one of the many people who help clean up Indian cities. Most of all, we want him to take action so such behavior is not repeated.

Please fax, email or write to

Mohamed Sultan Al Owais

UAE Ambassador to India

Embassy of United Arab Emirates

EP – 12, Chandragupta Marg,

Chanakyapuri, Delhi – 110021.

011-26873272 (Fax) (Ambassador’s office)

Please tell him that wastepickers are environmentalists whom he should thank, not steal from. Please let him know that you are ashamed of a diplomatic community that behaves in this manner, particularly towards the poor and the marginalized. Above all, ask him not to allow his staff to behave like bullies, hiding behind diplomatic immunity.

For more details, please contact:-

Moses Banee

Assistant Manager (Outreach)

Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group

C-14, 2nd Floor, Lajpat Nagar-III, New Delhi – 110024, India.

Email: –

Mob: – +91 9711433884 Fax: +91-11-46574174