New Delhi: The Indian embassy at Iceland has been served with a legal suit by a local citizen on allegations that the former Ambassador, T. Armstrong Changsan, allegedly did not pay the local who was employed as a driver with the embassy—his wages and allegedly mistreated him while subjecting him to racial slurs.
According to the lawyer of the person, who drove for the embassy from May 2017 to January 2022, the Indian Embassy at Reykjavik has been made aware of the suit and a subpoena has been served to it. The Sunday Guardian reached out to the present ambassador to Iceland, B. Shyam, for a response on these developments. No response was received till the time the story went to press.
The allegations by the lawyer, and the subsequent suits, are being widely reported in the local press and have become a subject of intense discussion on social media among the local users who are extremely upset over the treatment that was allegedly meted out to the driver. It is likely to snowball into a major diplomatic matter between the two countries considering the importance given by the Nordic countries to matters of human rights and civil liberties.
Lawyer Omar R. Valdimarsson, who is representing the driver, while speaking to The Sunday Guardian, said that he found it “incomprehensible” that the embassy did not attempt to resolve a matter like this before it reached “this” level of seriousness. The salary that was allegedly not paid to the driver, along with damages demanded, amounts to around Indian Rs 30 lakh.
“My client was a driver for the Indian Ambassador. The Ambassador in question is named Mr T. Armstrong Changsan and he has now left Iceland. My client worked for the embassy from May 2017 to January 2022. In addition to the unpaid salary, my client alleges that he was mistreated by Ambassador Changsan, who is said to have oftentimes used inappropriate and insulting racial slurs. This is a lawsuit against the Indian Embassy in Iceland as the defendant. My client was hired by the embassy and his claim for unpaid salary is therefore made against the embassy. Also, the demand for damages is made against the embassy, which in accordance with Icelandic law is required to provide safe and adequate working conditions. Slandering your employees and using racial slurs hardly fit into those requirements,” Omar claimed to The Sunday Guardian. According to him, the case will be heard in the Reykjavik court on 31 May.
Omar claimed that there were numerous witnesses to the racial slurs, all of whom would take the stand in the trial, if the need arose. The IFS officer in question, Armstrong Changsan served in Reykjavik till July 2021, a posting which he had joined in June 2018.
The driver who is of Hungarian origin, in his plaint, is likely to challenge the immunity granted to embassies. In his complaint, the driver has also alleged that he was forced to break traffic laws at the behest of the then ambassador during the visit of President Ramnath Kovind to Iceland in September 2019.