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Surjit Kaur Athwal

Volume 400: debated on Wednesday 26 February 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations the British Government have made to the Indian Government in the case of Surjit Kaur Athwal; [98457](2) if he will make a statement on the delay between the disappearance of Surjit Kaur Athwal and the first representations by the UK Government to the Indian Government on her case. [98459]

Our Consular Division in London were informed of Mrs. Athwal's disappearance on 22 December 1998. The next day, our High Commission in New Delhi made inquiries with the Indian police and immigration authorities. The Indian authorities confirmed, on 22 January 1999, that, according to their records, Mrs. Athwal was still in India. Since February 1999, we have liaised regularly with the UK police and the Punjabi police to facilitate the investigation into Mrs. Athwal's disappearance. On 15 March 1999 our Consul in Delhi met the Director for Consular Matters in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to discuss the case. We have raised the case with the Indian authorities on a number of occasions since then, most recently on 13 January 2003, when we sent an official note to the Ministry of External Affairs asking for Mrs. Athwal's case to be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. We remain in regular contact with the Indian authorities and will continue to offer Mrs. Athwal's family all the consular assistance that we properly can.