India has taken up with the United States a fact that gives a new twist to the Devyani Khobragade case: she had full diplomatic status at the time of her arrest in New York on December 12 on visa fraud charges.
This discovery could provide a way out of the stalemate between India and the U.S. over the court case against Ms. Khobragade and the seizure of her travel documents, sources here suggested. Talks between the two sides are on hold due to the Christmas vacation in the U.S.
Meanwhile, India has enforced “reciprocity” on U.S. consulate staff here by insisting they have access only to those privileges that are extended to Indian consular staff posted in the U.S.
Ms. Khobragade was taken into custody on December 12. At that time, in addition to being Deputy Consular-General at the Indian Consulate in New York — a rank the U.S. said did not entitle her to immunity — she was as an “Advisor” to India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations since August 26.
One possible explanation why the fact remained buried all this time is because a huge number of Indian diplomats were accredited to the Permanent Mission in U.N. before its 68th General Assembly (UNGA) got underway.
This year’s session was more important and hectic for Indian diplomats because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was to attend the UNGA (and meet U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington). A large contingent of Indian Foreign Office officials of various ranks were asked to apply to the U.N. for accreditation.