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Updated: December 20, 2013 02:46 IST
Diplomat arrest row

MEA rebuts Bharara’s claims, questions family’s ‘evacuation’

Sandeep Dikshit
Comment (33)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
File photo of Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade who was arrested by law enforcement authorities on visa fraud charges.
PTI File photo of Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade who was arrested by law enforcement authorities on visa fraud charges.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday refused to comment on U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara’s statement defending the arrest and strip-search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.

However, Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin provided a detailed rebuttal. There were no courtesies in the treatment meted out to the diplomat, “under the normal definition of that word in the English language” and Mr. Bharara’s remarks about equality before the law of both the rich and the poor were not conducive to resolving “inaccuracies”. It is also not a feature of the law that is exclusive to the office of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, said Mr. Akbaruddin.

Mr. Akbaruddin also took on the U.S. attorney for admitting the maid’s family was evacuated from India even though legal processes were under way in New Delhi. On the contrary, suggested Mr. Akbaruddin, when there is a prior legal process already under way in India, Mr. Bharara should have enabled justice to take its course in India.

The travails of Ms. Khobragade began a few days after the Indian maid Ms. Richard sought her permission to take up a job outside. They continued with New York police taking no action against the maid even though complaints about extortion and theft were filed against her.

On the contrary, the Indian diplomat was arrested, her passport has been confiscated and she has been told not to leave the country. The next hearing is three weeks away and there are prospects of a later date being allocated.

According to government sources, when Ms. Richard was found to have absconded on June 23, the diplomat informed the Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) in New York and on its advice, tried to lodge a missing person report but was told the report could only be lodged by her family member. When approached in India, Ms. Richard’s husband refused. After much persuasion, the police filed a missing person’s report.

A few days later, a woman claiming to be a lawyer demanded that Ms. Richard’s visa status be converted to ordinary and she be compensated for extra work. India sought police assistance in finding out that the caller’s identity but no action was taken. An extortion complaint followed by a theft compliant but there was no action.

Ms. Khobragade finally met the maid who sought $10,000 and an ordinary Indian passport but was told she could not remain in the U.S. and issues over working hours could be settled before her return to India. The maid refused.

About a week earlier, the diplomat filed a complaint with Delhi Police and asked the police to recover the maid’s official passport. The Indian diplomat also filed an anticipatory anti-suit injunction to avoid litigation in the U.S. A Delhi court then issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Ms. Richard.

In between, the Ministry of External Affairs requested the assistance of the U.S. Embassy and the State Department in Washington but there was no feedback.

However, the State Department issued a “one-sided letter” claiming the maid’s allegations were of “considerable concern” and asked the Embassy to investigate them. The reply highlighted the fact that Ms. Richard wanted a monetary settlement and a U.S. visa, “thereby seeking to subvert both Indian and U.S. laws”, claimed government sources.

On December 6, the arrest warrant issued by the Delhi Metropolitan court was forwarded to the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy but no action was taken.

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its shameful reading the crappy comments of Indians with the Green card
mentality supporting the U.S.

from:  KK
Posted on: Dec 21, 2013 at 09:03 IST

Why do articles keep saying that Sangeetha 'fled', 'absconded' etc.? You
abscond if you are a criminal, prisoner, slave, whatever? She was none
of those.

from:  Rahul Garg
Posted on: Dec 20, 2013 at 21:23 IST

What else is the purpose of starting a legal process against Sangeetha other than to harass her family and force her to take back the complaint. Isn't this the typical way Indian politicians operate, MEA is no diffrent. I haven't seen MEA explain whether there is any validity to the case brought forward by US, very quiet on that front.

from:  Chander N
Posted on: Dec 20, 2013 at 10:27 IST

India is making too much fuss because the accused involved
is a "diplomat". She is really a low level diplomat. I recall
the arrest and humiliating picture in handcuff of Dominique
Strauss Kahn, managing director of International Monetary Fund.
He was also expected to be a candidate for the president of France.
Yet he was humiliated by New York police. French grumbled a bit
on harsh treatment of their former finance minister and MD of IMF,
but there were no protests and fury. The case was tried and he
was acquitted. Indian reaction is disproportionate. The facts
of the case will be presented in the court and she may be
acquitted. The law is fair and is not influenced by shouting.
However, if she is found guilty, she deserves to be fired.

from:  Ali Khan
Posted on: Dec 20, 2013 at 03:46 IST

What should have been solved with cool and frank conversation between
governments has turned into a major issue. There is certainly
highhandedness from US officials and a fitting reply given by India
(unlike muted response NSA spying issue). Time for the Diplomat to
come home. The maid should be allowed to stay in US or return to India
as she/her family please.
After a cooling of period laws should be looked at for alignment to
address the minimum wage issue in case of diplomats in foreign
countries. Guess Indian tax payer will need to foot the bill for IFS
diplomats domestic help.

from:  Ravi Sampath
Posted on: Dec 20, 2013 at 02:36 IST

Devyani entered into a contract with Sangeeta and furnished that as evidence for procuring visa for the domestic help. She didnt honor that which is not expected from a person holding a high office representing a country of 1 billion people. The crime happened in US in violation of US laws. This has nothing to do with violation of Indian laws by Sangeeta for which she will be answerable. Both are suspects for different crimes under different laws under different countries. Each will have to go thru std judicial process of respective countries. Both countries agencies can use all under their legal disposal to prove respective claims.

from:  Pramod Kumar
Posted on: Dec 20, 2013 at 02:28 IST

All said and done we are just running on emotions and appearing to
conclusions based on what story Devyani and her father are saying.
The other side of the coin we aren't looking at.
1)First and foremost is the violation of country's law by a diplomat
2)Secondly as per Mr. Preet when the maid made complain there
immediately there was quick response in india in getting her visa
cancelled and stuff ... This just shows how quick the powers in Delhi
were going out of their way to get the maid out of there rather than
fixing the first issue.
3)As you sow so you reap .... Go to any Indian Consulate and you will
know how beautifully the consular employees treat Indians who visit.
4)Lastly given the way Indian Govt works i cannot beleive Devyani and
her Father's side of the story but would beleive Mr. Bharara's part as
he has an immpecable record in going agains the culprits. This guys is
wont who does his homework well before going for the hit.

from:  Raju
Posted on: Dec 20, 2013 at 02:14 IST

@Mr Vivek- First of all, when it is regarding the diplomats, the Vienna convention is to be followed in toto and not in parts. If at all there was any illegalities done by the diplomat, the first course of action is to follow the diplomatic channel and not by ordering arrest of the diplomat.
Coming to you second logic regarding help by US to india, any help extended (if at all) cannot nullify the self respect of the nation. The US if it helped was not doing due to any charity- it has its own interest to protect, looks like you have forgotted the 1971 war when the US had sent its 7th fleet to the Bay of Bengal to show solidarity with Pakistan. Where was its sense of justice then when millions of Pakistan were molested and killed by the Pakistan army and the US kept quiet, in fact intimidated India!

from:  Mak Kumar
Posted on: Dec 20, 2013 at 01:12 IST

One would wonder why the MEA did not put Ms. Richards' husband on watch list to prevent him from leaving India in view of the on going court case in India and the nanny's ongoing extortion tactics in the US?

from:  ujjal arora
Posted on: Dec 20, 2013 at 00:25 IST

Some comments here are just ridiculous. She is an IFS officer and she
must have very well known about the the papers that she has submitted
for her maid. So I do not think that she is innocent. Underpaying a
maid is like encouraging slavery. By protesting India is making a fool
of itself.

from:  raj
Posted on: Dec 20, 2013 at 00:23 IST

I agree with you Srinivas. The babus are trying to safeguard
themselves by diverting the attention from the victim to person who is
charged of criminal offences. We know our system, where the rich and
powerful(like this officer) can be successful in framing charges
against the poor workers. The officer did not err when she was
discharging a duty on behalf of Indian Government, but while enjoying
her private life. We, who are here is US, know it is very very big
deal to afford an domestic worker, and it is considered as a big
luxury. The officers want to have this luxury by cheating the law of
this land, and the Indian Government is approving it? Shame on the
people who support the officer.

from:  Anil
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 23:51 IST

Maid's family 'evacuated' to US, says Preet Bharara…India questions right of a foreign government “united states emphasized” to evacuate Indian citizens from India while cases are pending against them in the Indian legal system…what nonsense? Did United states use teleportation machine? It is time to admit the flow in system and fix it…US government must tender an unconditional apology for the humiliation of the Indian diplomat and must deport Sangeeta Richard to India… The self-respect movement sowed its seed during the Indian freedom struggle..is it still a seed or might tree… it is a time realise

from:  ravish kumar
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 23:35 IST

The amount of self-flagellation here and elsewhere on this issue is
remarkable. "Netas, babus and afsars anyway exploit the poor in our
country, why don't they let the americans prosecute this lady who had a
maid. Can you imagine, a maid in the US!" type of nonsense is being
bandied about. If that is your view of India, why even give lip service
to being a country in the first place and let it be a free for all.
After all, if you don't value your own country and law enforcement,
what then is the basis of your own country? This is a consular
official, who represents the country in a foreign land. She gets more
privileges than a normal citizen due to the nature of her job. It is
unbelieavable that many think her only job there is to entertain guests
in parties and sight-see the US and its a cushy job.

from:  Ram
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 23:03 IST

The Indian govt. should not stop at just getting Devyani Khobragade back to India or even getting the US to apologise for its conduct. It should ensure that the maid and her family are brought back to India, face trial in Indian courts, and then face up to whatever punishments that the courts decide. The US must be told to go take a walk.

from:  Abhay Deshmukh
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 23:00 IST

Looks like Devyani is the true victim.The maid Sangeetha had sensed
the loopholes in the law and has abused it to gain green card in
USA.The Indian govt should immeditaely cancel her passport and make
all efforts to bring sangeetha and her family to India and face the
trial here for abusing and harassing the diplomat.The US attorney
feel into the maids trap by the age old belief that Indian is a
feudal society and all rich people abuse the maids.That happened
nearly 10-20 yrs back,now India has changed. All the maids are
treated fairly and certainly Devyani didnt treat her maid unfairly
going by the media reports.The Indian govt should immediately bring
Sangeetha and her family to India.Looks like the Newyork govt is
running is the Indian judicial and legal system here.Its just
baffling.

from:  Deshni
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 21:48 IST

It seems many are misunderstanding the issue. It may be true that Ms.D has committed crime but the crime was not that type to go beyond grace while checking her. After all she was Diplomat. She should have been treated respectfully.Ruthlessness of security people in America is well known.They have even shooted innocents.

from:  Ashok
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 21:34 IST

Yes it was India's fault that ms. Richards was underpaid, agreed. The
government should either not send staff for diplomats who cannot pay
or at least make alternate legal arrangements. Even so, the US cannot
treat guests the way it does. India may not be a prime example for
much apart from population growth, but we have to set our things right
on our own. No one, especially not the US is responsible or interested
in making our society or economy better. But in the meanwhile if we
want to be treated with respect outside the country, we cannot allow
for our citizens, diplomats or otherwise to be manhandled or
mistreated, especially when their diplomats are treated respectfully
here. The GoI must ensure ms. Richards receives her dues and that only
reciprocal privileges are given to citizens/ diplomats of other
countries. Also we are all part of the problem, every single one of
us. So let's not go blaming the government. Classism and casteism are
evils created by society.

from:  Akshata
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 21:27 IST

what the episode has shown that we are the victims of our own attitude
toward ourselves.We go an extra mile to please foreigners especially
Americans and Europeans.We lobby with them to humiliate our own people
to score political points back home.We shower them with extra privileges
to get brickbat in their country again and again.They make fun of our
poverty by imposing their laws on us and conveniently privilege few
invest their money in their country and get medically treated there and
still claim to be Indians First.

from:  NAVEEN DIWAN
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 21:18 IST

The criminal investigation about visa application fraud was notified in September to then Ambassador Meera Shanker and to Ministry of External affairs. At that time the Indian government should have recalled Ms, Deyani and investigated the matter. In this episode both governments over reacted and made mistakes. Recently Russian Embassy officials were arrested for Medicaid fraud. No one is above the law.

from:  Mohan Kochicheril
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 21:00 IST

I do not know much about Mr. Preet Bharara except as a justice department official stationed in New York and who was born in India. Being aware of the highly sensitive nature of the issue on hand, he (India-born Mr. Bharara) should have recused himself from the case rather than issuing statements which are now being misconstrued in India, including the most venerable Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India. Whatever may be the outcome of this case, the India born Americans, who visit India often, I am afraid, are likely to be subjected to unwanted and inexplicable harassment at every level as a pay back for the above unfortunate episode. I hope Mr. Obama, whom most Indian Americans supported will step in immediately and put an end to this sorry and sordid episode.

from:  Govardhan Giridhar
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 20:23 IST

The unconventional(as per Indian law) arrest of Indian Consul without proper inquiry is definitely insulting to the Indian community but what ever be the motive behind this arrest and by the resulting retaliatory move by India Govt, the final effect will be the strained foreign relationship between India and US, and definitely India may be in more loss due to this move. One should remember there are more than 31 lakh Indians residing in the US and so such strained relations may effect them and also the strategic support from the US.

from:  A ABILASH
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 20:11 IST

As an Indian citizen I do not completely understand why the media is
projecting the diplomat (consular officer??) as the victim in the first
case. I sincerely believe the victim here is the maid . The US is right
in initiating proceedings to try the diplomat (consular office?) for
human trafficking. It's a shame that a major proportion of the Indian
population do understand the there is something called human rights
which need to be upheld for everybody irrespective of caste, creed, sex
etc. Sadly, the Indian state fails to do it on an every day basis.

from:  Tanmoy Dutta
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 19:48 IST

Correcting the imbalance : Somehow I get the impression that what both
the US Attorney and the Indian Govt. did are right. Inequalities and
lack of reciprocity between privileges granted : Duty free import of
goods, dedicated parking, privilege passes to enter airport, tax free
salaries to local staff and spouses employed in US related
institutions, barricading of a public road exclusively for embassy and
staff use (Nyay Marg), free lounge facility at the airport, Diplomatic
status to the embassy and consul staff and so on. Biggest losers are
US embassy and consul staff. I doubt whether these would be restored
in full. But why did this Lady need to flaunt a maid in US when even
richer do without a help and why did she suppress/ conceal a private
second written contract that she will pay less while declaring to
authorities that she will honor US law in such wage payment-a mis-
declaration. Why did she ignore a previous process (summons) of US
Court and did not respond?

from:  Rakesh Chitkara
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 19:26 IST

I am an U.S. citizen of Indian orgin. I have lived in India for 31
years. I support the action of U. S. attorney Preet Bharara. India,
middle east and other regions are famous for faking Visa papers, false
documents, false marriage cerfificates. false marrriage annulment
certificates, false anything. Indians are also not generous to their
servants and maids expecially in North India. In Bihar, the landlords
rape the servants and pay them a beggarly pittance. Most of the
Indian politicians, ministers belong to this category. Not a single
word from the Indian policiticians about the poor maid who was paid
slave wages. Of course, there are honest decent Indians. But these
are the silent majority.
I hope the U.S. government prosecutes Devyani to the full extent of
the law and if found guilty given the maximum punishment allowed by
the law.

from:  Nellore S. Venkataramn
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 19:12 IST

"legal process was started in India to “silence her and attempts were made to compel her to return to India“.".

It is necessary to understand what the U.S. Prosecutor meant before construing those words as conveying that he conceded that a legal process was started unmindful of what he spelt out as the object of such legal process for he categorically added that it was for the purpose of silencing her and compelling her to return to India.

from:  Satyanand Kattamuri
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 19:03 IST

By admitting to full knowledge of legal proceedings in India and interfering in
blocking the implementation of an order of the Delhi High Court Mr. Preet B. has
admitted to contempt of court and due proceedings should be launched for
criminal action against him and each US Embassy official involved in the wilful
violation of Indian court orders in India. The Delhi High Court should issue
warrants against the US visa officials in Indian embassy and Mr. Preet B under
Contempt of Courts Act and Indian Government should put out a red alert against
the said individual. The US diplomats in India should not be allowed to leave and
be declared as proclaimed offenders and arrested.

from:  Piyush Joshi
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 19:02 IST

What extra interest the public prosecutor has in bringing in the
spouse of Sangeeta. He is an Indian. There is a Government in India
and fair Judiciary. What makes him assume that the spouse of Sangeeta
will not be safe in India. Are these individuals superior to
Government of India in protection ?
Again where is Sangeeta ? Who is footing the Bill for stay of Mr.
Richard.

from:  SAMPATH
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 18:58 IST

The arrest and searching of the diplomat can be pursued in a logical
way to logical conclusion. But GOI taking self righteous stand on the
issue is not going to resolve the issue.
The questions to be addressed are:
Has the diplomat filed a false statement for her maid's visa?
Has she underpaid her maid compared to the minimum wages in US or what
was offered in the employment letter ( which ever is higher)

India and US should remember that bigger things are at stake than
this. US has its laws and if there is an violation of rights in
enforcing a law, there is recourse to it; and possibly damages.
India should remember that it gets lot more at strategic level - in
terms territorial security and terrorism - from US. Remember Kargil
war and Bombay attacks. But for US help India would still be licking
its wounds.
Throwing away good relations by taking umbrage to an imaginary
belittlement is going to hurt India more than US.
US has one policy for all world's visitors- not just for India

from:  VivekR
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 18:47 IST

//To the response to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s remarks, the ministry asserted “It needs to be asked what right a foreign govt has to “evacuate” Indian citizens from India while cases are pending against them in Indian legal system.” //

This is the usual trick to safeguard their interest by the ruling community and to cheat poor people. Dear Minister "do not try to cheat the world by simply showing your judiciary system".

from:  Supu
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 18:43 IST

It looks like our country has got a taste of it's own medicine. Why do you babus and MP's fall once you see a westerner in the country? You guys keep them up on a pedestal and look how US has treated. On the other hand, no one is above the law at least in the US, so our leaders need to get that in their mind set. Can this diplomat provide proof (Direct deposit checks to the maid) that she paid the right wages if she is that innocent as she claims?

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 18:32 IST

This is a lesson to the corrupt, barbaric, inhuman and criminal elements of the Indian UPA regime, MEA and others who collaborated with the Sri Lankan regime that committed genocide against the Eelam Tamils.

No criminal can escape from punishment and all criminals should be investigated and punished for their wrongdoing.

Eelam Tamils are actively exposing, participating and writing to the Western leaders and bring awareness among the public on several issues.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 18:29 IST

Jessica Lal's case and the UK Girl who was murdered in the Goa beach exposes the incompetent and mockery of Indian legal and law enforcement system to the world. Rajiv Gandhi's assassination case has more questions than answers and several books are written by the former CBI officers accusing the system. No one is talking about the victim, her sufferings and trying to cover up the alleged crimes committed by the diplomat. India is a very weak, mockery and corrupted under the UPA and it's well-known and most likely Devyani will have to pay a heavy price for her alleged crimes if proven.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 18:22 IST

Why is 'The Hindu' giving so much importance to this diplomat's arrest? I have been seeing a series of articles in the last few days. Is it the most important? Definitely, she should not have been subjected to strip search but why should Indian government interfere with the law enforcement in USA? Also, how can diplomatic immunity be applied to all circumstances. I certainly see what she was arrested for as a genuine case. If she is not guilty, let her prove it in the court. The sad part is that the government is assuming that its stand is what its people's stand. Unfortunately not, as you can see from the comments posted on this series of articles. It is a SHAME to see the public display of double standards of our polity cutting across party lines. No one cares about the exploitation and humiliation a common woman/man subjected to in the country but worried so much about this lady who is well educated and connected to fight for herself.

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: Dec 19, 2013 at 18:10 IST
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