Beijing: An Indian diplomat who offered consular support to two Indians involved in a business dispute secretly tried to take them away from a court in eastern China "under the pretence of going to the toilet", an official Chinese newspaper reported Thursday.
"During the interval at the hearing, the diplomat planned to take away the two Indians secretly under the pretence of going to the toilet. But they were stopped by suppliers at the court's exit," an official with the local government told the state-run Global Times.
When officials arrived, they found the diplomat sitting on the ground and claiming that he had been beaten. But medical checks afterwards showed no signs of beating, he said requesting anonymity.
The reports distorted the facts, he claimed.
Media reports said S. Balachandran, from the Indian consulate general in Shanghai, accompanying the Indians to a court in Yiwu city, fainted after he was attacked by a crowd in its premises. Reports said he was not allowed access to food and medication.
Shyamsundar Agrawal and Deepak Raheja alleged that they were illegally detained and tortured "like animals" after their business owner fled, angering the unpaid Chinese employees.
The official claimed the Indians refused to pay more than 10 million yuan ($1.59 million) for goods they had received.
After India protested the illegal confinement and alleged torture of the businessmen, Beijing affirmed that it values relations with New Delhi.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China attached great importance to friendly relations with India and "hopes the Indian side will treat the case in an objective and fair manner".
He, however, described as inaccurate media reports that the Indian diplomat was mistreated while offering consular services to the Indian traders on trial in the eastern city of Yiwu.
"China protects the rights and interests of foreigners doing legitimate business," China Daily quoted Hong as saying.
"We hope that Indian authorities could deal with this matter fairly and objectively" and ensure that Indian businessmen in China abide by Chinese laws and regulations, he said.
The spokesman added the case was triggered by economic disputes and China's judicial authorities were now handling the case in accordance with the law.
Lou Zhongping, chairman of the Household Articles Chamber of Commerce in Yiwu in Zhejiang Province. said such cases involving Indian businessmen are not rare.
"Many suppliers are cautious about that and are discussing measures to prevent and punish those swindlers," Lou told the Global Times.
In December, an Indian citizen fled to India without paying 16 million yuan to 145 goods suppliers in Yiwu. In another case, two Indians took away goods worth 2.8 million yuan without payment, according to the newspaper.