Diplomat’s arrest: Outraged Indian MPs demand action against US

December 18, 2013 | By | Reply More

Dec 18, – Outraged Indian MPs have spoken out in parliament against the arrest and alleged ill-treatment of one of the country’s diplomats in New York.

hromedia Devyani Khobragade Indian MPs demand action against US intl. news1Upper house opposition leader Arun Jaitley said the arrest was a clear violation of the Vienna convention.

Devyani Khobragade, deputy consul general, was handcuffed upon arrest last week and later strip-searched.

She denies visa fraud and making false statements over allegations that she underpaid her Indian maid.

The maid had complained the diplomat was paying her less than the minimum stipulated wages under US visa requirements.

Following her arrest, Ms Khobragade appeared in court last Friday and was freed on bail.

On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Ms Khobragade’s treatment as “deplorable” and Foreign Minister Salman Khursheed said it was his duty to restore the dignity of the diplomat.

“I think the most important, immediate concern is to ensure that no further indignity is inflicted upon the young officer. And we are taking steps to ensure legally whatever is possible that we implement that immediately,” Mr Khursheed told parliament.

“In terms of giving a strong, unambiguous, direct message to the United States of America: whatever I believe we were supposed to do, we did immediately,” he added.

On Tuesday, India ordered a series of reprisals against the US. Security barricades around the US embassy in Delhi were removed and a visiting US delegation was snubbed.

US state department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf later tried to calm Indian anger.

“We understand that this is a sensitive issue for many in India. Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was extended,” she said in a press statement.

‘National outrage’

On Wednesday morning, opposition MPs from several parties called on the government to take action against the US.

Mr Jaitley of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said India should take its bilateral relations more seriously and “insist on being treated like equals” by Washington.

“Has the US held Vienna Convention in this? Who gave it the right to handcuff Devyani, treat her in this manner?” asked senior BJP MP Yashwant Sinha.

The leader of the regional Bahujan Samaj Party, Mayawati, demanded that “the prime minister should intervene immediately and take necessary action”.

“When US citizens come here we show them so much respect. We must rethink on this,” she added.

Senior Congress party minister Anand Sharma, speaking on behalf of the government, said the arrest was a “matter of national outrage”. He said the government “has taken a stern view” and would make a statement in the parliament.

Ms Khobragade’s arrest has escalated into a huge diplomatic row between India and the US with Delhi saying it was “shocked and appalled” at the manner in which the diplomat was “humiliated” in the US.

On Wednesday morning, The Times of India quoted from a letter she wrote to her foreign service colleagues where she said she was not just handcuffed, but subjected to a series of other measures.

“Although I must admit that I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, in a holdup with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity, I got the strength to regain composure and remain dignified thinking that I must represent all of my colleagues and my country with confidence and pride,” she wrote.

The US Marshals Service Office of Public Affairs confirmed on Tuesday that she had been strip-searched.

Ms Khobragade, 39, was arrested last Thursday in New York and later freed on a $250,000 (£153,000) bond after pleading not guilty to the charges.

Law enforcement authorities in New York say Ms Khobragade “allegedly caused a materially false and fraudulent document to be presented, and materially false and fraudulent statements to be made, to the US Department of State in support of a visa application for an Indian national employed as a babysitter and housekeeper at her home in New York”.

If found guilty, she faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for visa fraud and five years for making false statements.

Ms Khobragade will challenge her arrest on grounds of diplomatic immunity, her lawyer said.

The US state department said that Ms Khobragade did not have full diplomatic immunity.

Press journalist for HRO media – Debi Campillos contributed to this report.

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Category: International

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