|File photo of Devyani Khobragade (Pic: Indian Express)|
Friday, December 13, 2013
India summons US envoy over arrest of diplomat
NEW DELHI (AA) - India has summoned US ambassador Nancy Powell after 39-year old Devyani Khobragade, Deputy Consul General of the Indian Embassy in the United States, was arrested and handcuffed in public in New York for allegedly underpaying, and lying on the visa application of, Sangeeta Richard, a maid she brought from India in November 2012.
Khobragade was served an arrest warrant on Thursday morning as she was dropping her daughters off at school. She was released by a Manhattan court on Thursday evening on a bond of $2,500,000.
India said it is shocked and appalled by the behaviour of US government authorities toward the Indian diplomat.
"We are shocked and appalled at the manner she has been humiliated by US authorities,” official spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (Foreign Ministry) Syed Akbaruddin told a press conference.
“We have taken this up forcefully with the US government through our embassy in Washington,” he said. “We are reiterating in no uncertain terms to the US embassy here that this kind of treatment to one of our diplomats is absolutely unacceptable.”
He said India’s Foreign Ministry is working to resolve the matter at the earliest.
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.“The US side has been urged to resolve the matter with due sensitivity, taking into account the existing court case in India that has already been brought to their attention by the Government of India, and the diplomatic status of the officer concerned,'' the Indian embassy said in the statement.