“The housekeeper wanted us to apply for a regular passport for her, which was not possible”

The family of India’s Deputy Consul-General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, has alleged that she is a victim of a conspiracy hatched by the domestic help, who complained against her, and the non-governmental bodies which were advising her.

Ms. Khobragade was arrested on Thursday on charges of visa fraud and of underpaying housekeeper Sangeeta Richards, whom she had taken from India.

“They were trying to extort money from my daughter. Ms. Richards’ main aim was to get a passport issued in her name, not wages,” said retired IAS officer Uttam Khobragade, the diplomat’s father. He said Ms. Richards worked with her for six months and then “disappeared” after which the extortion calls began.

“At one point, we agreed to pay her $10,000 as demanded by someone claiming to be her attorney, but she was not interested. In addition to the money, she wanted us to apply for a regular passport for her, which was not possible,” said Mr. Khobragade.

They were paying Rs. 30,000 a month to Ms. Richards’ family in keeping with an agreement they had arrived at before she started working with them. “Her accommodation, food and medicines were paid for. Besides, she was given money whenever she asked for it. There were no complaints till she disappeared,” he said.

“No visa fraud”

Mr. Khobragade denied the charges of visa fraud. “There was no visa fraud. And if there was, why did the U.S. authorities clear the visa? They should be made answerable for that. Also, the documents were signed by Ms. Richards. She should be made answerable.”

The family has questioned the U.S. Court’s jurisdiction over the case since the family had lodged a case against Ms. Richards in the Delhi High Court after she disappeared. “The court had ruled that she could not lodge proceedings against my daughter in any other court, even overseas,” he said.