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The government called me back: Mathrani
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | December 06, 2005 22:45 IST
Former Indian ambassador to Croatia, Aneil Mathrani, said on Tuesday that his appointment as head of the mission in that country had nothing to do with former external affairs minister Natwar Singh.
"I was appointed by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh," he said emphatically in an exclusive interview with rediff.com at his residence in Vasant Kunj in New Delhi on Tuesday night.
Asked if he meant that Natwar Singh had nothing whatsoever to do with his appointment, Mathrani clarified, "Being the minister of external affairs he moved the papers."
Though he had been grilled for more than six hours by officers of the Enforcement Directorate, Mathrani did not look tired or hassled. "They are professional people and they are doing their jobs professionally," he said.
Mathrani refused to be drawn into any controversy or answer any question relating to what the Enforcement Directorate has been asking him for last two days. "I have told them what I had to," was his stock reply to such questions.
About the interview with India Today, which was carried despite the fact that Mathrani was told it was off-the-record, he said, "To say I am annoyed would be too harsh. I have been hurt by the incident. A promise had been made that this was an off-the-record conversation and it should have remained so."
Mathrani had alleged, earlier, that the magazine distorted the conversation and placed it out of context but has not, so far, denied the contents of the interview. When asked about it, he said, "I have said it was an off-the-record conversation and it should have remained so."
He denied that his diplomatic passport had been taken away on arrival at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. "Who said they took my passport? What have I done that I should be denied my passport? It is with me," he said.
As for his status, Mathrani said he had sought a transfer some weeks ago and has moved the papers for his successor. "I have come back because I have been called back by the government," he said. He refuted rumours that he has asked to be made Indian ambassador at large to the United States.
Mathrani also denied he had been wrapped in a blanket and whisked away from the airport by the intelligence agencies. On Tuesday, he was not even surrounded by Delhi police constables, who had accompanied him on Monday.
He said the Enforcement Directorate had not called him on Wednesday but if required, he would go again.