|File photo of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade|
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
India and US diplomatic spat
NEW DELHI (AA) - The Indian government has withdrawn airport passes for all US Consular officials in India in retaliation for the ill treatment of an Indian diplomat in the US.
Deputy consul general in New York, 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade, was arrested on December 12 on the charges of underpaying and lying on the visa application of Sangeeta Richard, a maid she brought from India in November 2012.
Mother of two, Khobragade, was arrested and publicly handcuffed by US authorities in New York as she was dropping off her daughters to school last Thursday morning. She was reportedly strip-searched, made to stand with common criminals, drug addicts and sex workers in custody. Media reports also said Khobragade was subjected to DNA swabbing. Khobragade was released on a bond of $2,50,000 on Thursday evening.
Washington has said that New York police followed "standard procedures" during her arrest. In response top Indian politicians including Gandhi family scion Rahul Gandhi and Sushil Kumar Shinde, India’s federal home minister are refusing to meet a visiting US delegation.
Opposition party BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi also followed suit. On his Twitter page, Modi wrote, “refused to meet the visiting USA delegation in solidarity with our nation, protesting ill-treatment meted to our lady diplomat in USA.”
Sources told Anadolu Agency that government has also sought the salary details of Indians employed in US Consulates.
On Government instructions, Delhi police have also removed barricades outside the Delhi embassy.
“The law of strict reciprocity is in place, if they say Ms Khobragade had limited immunity then so will US officials,” NDTV, an English-language news channel quoted an unnamed Indian diplomat as saying.
BJP leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha raised eyebrows when he said that after Supreme Court ruling India should arrest the same-sex companions of American diplomats posted in India.
“My suggestion to the Government of India is, the media has reported that we have issued visas to a number of US diplomats’ companions. ‘Companions’ means that they are of the same sex. Now, after the Supreme Court ruling, it is completely illegal in our country. Just as paying less wages was illegal in the US. So, why doesn’t the government of India go ahead and arrest all of them? Put them behind bars, prosecute them in this country and punish them,” Sinha said.
Interestingly, the case against the diplomat is being conducted by the office of an Indian-American US Attorney Preet Bharara.
Khobragade was allegedly paying Richard $3.11 per hour instead of the promised mandatory US wages of $9.75.
However, Indian officials portray a more complicated legal picture, saying that Richard has been absconding since June this year as the Delhi High Court had issued an interim injunction in September restraining her from instituting any actions or proceedings against Khobragad outside India according to the terms and conditions of her employment.
The Indian Embassy had requested the US government to locate Richard and facilitate the implementation of an arrest warrant, issued by the Metropolitan Magistrate of the South District Court in New Delhi under Sections 387, 420 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code.