World

SEOUL (Web Desk) – A goodwill visit by an Indian warship to South Korea’s Incheon port aimed at strengthening military ties ended up causing deep embarrassment to the Indian Navy after two of its sailors were accused of sexual harassment by a local woman.


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The groping incident is said to have taken place at a convenience store on the night of October 23, the very same day stealth frigate INS Sahyadri anchored at the port, casting a shadow on the five-day visit, the Hindustan Times reported.

There were some tense moments at the Indian embassy in Seoul and on the warship – commanded by Captain Kunal Singh Rajkumar – after the Incheon police launched an investigation on the basis of the woman’s complaint about inappropriate behaviour from the sailors.

Indian officials cooperated with the investigation but there were fears that the scandal could cut short the visit to the deeply conservative country.

The matter was resolved on October 25 only after officials from the Indian embassy and the warship extended “sincerest apologies and deep regrets” to the complainant and her family, allowing the warship’s visit to continue on its “agreed agenda”.

A senior officer said the navy would get to the bottom of the matter and initiate strict disciplinary action after the warship returned.

The vessel, which left Incheon on Tuesday, is on an operational deployment to Northwest Pacific region and South China Sea in line with India’s Act East policy.

Describing the incident as “unfortunate,” the Indian mission said in a statement that neither the Indian Navy nor the Indian government would tolerate such conduct under any circumstances. “Any infringement of conduct codes will be dealt in accordance with the most stringent provision of the Indian Navy law,” the statement said, adding the Indian mission learnt of the incident with “great dismay.”

The embassy stressed that the incident would not be allowed to “dampen the goodwill” between the two countries. South Korea is slowly finding its feet in the Indian defence market – Samsung Techwin, in partnership with Larsen & Toubro, recently won Rs487 million order to supply howitzers to the Indian Army.

Also, South Korean yard Kangnam Corporation is competing with global firms for a possible collaboration with Goa Shipyard Limited to build 12 minesweepers in India at a cost of Rs3200 million. The Korean navy will take part in an international fleet review being staged by India off the Vizag coast in February.