"While I haven't seen the complaint, I understand that he has taken offense to my mentioning the word "Muslims" in a conversation as I was leaving the office. If the complaint is one of religious bias, I can on heart say that this is not the case and I harbour no such sentiment" -
Namita Khatri to then Foreign Secretary Robin Nair, 4 November 2016
Fijileaks Comments Moderator: We have not, and will not, approve virulently anti-Muslim comments if you are purely abusing Indo-Fijian Muslims and not commenting on the posting. We have also not approved comments containing the word "Kattu", once allegedly deployed by former Education Minister Reddy against Khaiyum. The focus of our story is Election Supervisor Mohammed Saneem, who Khatri claims made a meaty mountain out of comments uttered in jest in New Delhi
While re-iterating that we are not fanning anti-Muslim hatred, we now publish the e-mail the then Fiji High Commissioner Namita Khatri had written to the then Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs ROBIN NAIR. In the e-mail, Khatri explained her side of the exchanges, putting the whole event in context but it was not good enough for the petulant and sulking Mohammed Saneem - she lost her job as High Commissioner:
4Friday, November 4, 2016
As per our telephone discussion, you advised me that there has been a complaint against me in regard of something I may have said to the Supervisor of Elections in the presence of the Mission's SS [Azreen Khan]. While I haven't seen the complaint, I understand that he has taken offense to my mentioning the word "Muslims" in a conversation as I was leaving the office. If the complaint is one of religious bias, I can on heart say that this is not the case and I harbour no such sentiment.
If it is the conversation that I recall, it was in the context of me having invited the Supervisor of Elections to dinner, but him having made arrangements to have Moghlai cuisine [Mughlai cuisine consists of dishes developed in South Asia at the centers of the Mughal Empire. It represents a combination of the cooking style and recipes of Central Asia and North India] for dinner that evening with the Mission's SS and his nephew who is studying in India. I had suggested that we could then meet the next night for dinner. In passing him in the corridor on my way out of the Mission later, I asked him if he was sure about dinner that night, and he said yes.
In this context, I said, in what I thought was the same friendly bantering conversation we had been having, that while they did their Muslim outing that night, I hoped we could still meet for dinner another evening. I used the word Muslim there in the context of his intended company and the heritage of the cuisine that they were going to eat that evening.
Perhaps my words were not chosen so well, and he took offense at those words having interpreted them in another light. My intent had just been to flag that I still wanted to take him out for dinner while he was in Delhi, notwithstanding his plans for that night. There was no other intent, and I apologise if my choice of words caused offense. If I recall correctly this conversation was partly in Hindustani and partly in English, which may have added to the likelihood of misunderstanding.
I consider it important to clarify this matter, as I firmly believe in an inclusive and secular approach to life, and would like to believe that those who know me would be able to speak to my fundamental belief in inclusiveness and freedom from discrimination or bias on any grounds whatsoever. I would be keen also to speak with Supervisor of Elections to clear up any offence taken. I will however await your guidance on the matter as the Supervisor of Elections did not come directly to me, and I should respect his chosen path of action.
Fijileaks: It was Azreen Khan, on 3 November 2016, who had filed a litany of complaints against Khatri to Nair (more later) including this one: 'Sir, HC in my presence passed a racial comment to the Supervisor of Elections during his courtesy call to the High Commissioner at the Fiji Mission in New Delhi."