India has expressed its dismay over the arrest and handcuffing of its Deputy Consul-General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, by summoning U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell to the Ministry of External Affairs as well as “taking up forcefully” the diplomat’s case with the State Department.
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh told Ms. Powell that the manner in which Dr. Khobragade was treated was “totally unacceptable.” Both Ms. Singh and Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said she was entitled to the courtesies under various multilateral conventions relating to the diplomatic fraternity posted in foreign countries.
“We have reiterated to the U.S. Embassy that this kind of treatment is unacceptable,” Mr. Akbaruddin said. He pointed out that issues of a legal nature would be resolved separately.
Dr. Khobragade’s is the third recent case of an Indian diplomat being charged with evading payment of minimum wages in the country of posting. New Delhi, however, is focussing on her arrest which, it has emphasised, went against established norms.
Indian Foreign Service officials closed ranks behind their colleague in New York. “If all nations start casting aside diplomatic immunity so casually, the consequences will be dreadful and unimaginable,” said the Indian Ambassador in Seoul and former MEA spokesperson, Vishnu Prakash.
Mr. Akbaruddin used stronger words. “We are shocked and appalled at the manner in which she has been humiliated by the U.S. authorities. We are also reiterating in no uncertain terms that this kind of treatment is absolutely unacceptable.”