Maids' rape: Saudi Arabia refuses to cooperate

Indian authorities have asked the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Delhi to cooperate in an ongoing police investigation into charges that one of the kingdom's senior diplomats in the city repeatedly raped and abused two domestic servants of Nepali origin who were held captive in his luxury apartment.

Till the time of this report, the Saudi embassy had not responded to the ministry of external affairs' demand to cooperate in the case.

Instead, the embassy has issued a statement denying all the allegations, describing them as ''completely baseless'', and has lodged an official complaint about the raid on the apartment which it says was a breach of diplomatic privilege.

Earlier this week police raided the diplomat's residence in Gurgaon where, they have told reporters, they found two Nepali women employed as maids. The police later opened an inquiry into allegations made by the two women that they had been held against their will, denied food and water, beaten, and repeatedly raped by up to seven men at a time over a period of several weeks.

Vikas Swarup, an Indian government spokesperson, said, ''[The Ministry of External Affairs] called in [the] Saudi ambassador and conveyed the request of [the] police for cooperation of the embassy in the case of two Nepali citizens.''

Investigations are hampered because the accused enjoys diplomatic immunity. "The fact of the matter is that diplomatic immunity is widely accepted," G Parthasarathy, India's former high commissioner to Pakistan, had told Huffington Post India on Thursday.

On Thursday, demonstrators gathered outside the Saudi embassy shouting slogans calling for the prosecution of the diplomat.

Leaked details of medical assessments of the two women published in local media will increase the pressure on Indian authorities to continue the inquiry, despite the diplomatic damage to relations with Saudi Arabia.

The ambassador of Nepal has also formally requested a thorough and rapid inquiry into the case.

Both women came from remote rural parts of Nepal and were sent to Saudi Arabia as domestic servants by human traffickers before returning to Delhi with their new employer, NGO workers assisting the pair said.

Such networks send thousands of women to India from Nepal, and hundreds at least to the Gulf, every year.

The affair is a diplomatic dilemma for Delhi. Senior Indian officials will be acutely aware that Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, is due to travel to Saudi Arabia later in the year. Modi has repeatedly called for better relations between the emerging economic power and the resource-rich states of the Gulf. Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest suppliers of oil to India and hosts more than 2 million Indian workers.

However another key plank of Modi's foreign policy is improving relations with Nepal, where India is seeking to counter growing Chinese influence.