“This fight is not just to restore the dignity of my daughter, but the sovereignty of this nation [as well]. If the Indian authorities fail me, I will go on a fast unto death until they withdraw the case against her,” said Uttam Khobragade, father of Devyani Khobragade, India’s Deputy Consul General in New York, whose arrest and strip-search in connection with a visa fraud case by the U.S. administrators has created nationwide outrage.
“I will soon meet the Prime Minister and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. I will fight for my daughter’s pride and dignity until my last breath. If a country of 100 crore cannot ensure that their daughter’s dignity is safeguarded, then it would be the nation's failure,” said Mr. Khobragade.
Mr. Khobragade claims that his daughter is a victim of a conspiracy hatched at the highest level.
“The manner in which my daughter was arrested and humiliated shows that it was a pre-planned conspiracy. The family of the maid Sangeeta Richard [the alleged victim in the case] was flown to the U.S. three days before Devyani was arrested. Devyani’s husband was not in the country and had gone to attend a seminar at the time Devyani was put under arrest,” said Mr. Khobragade.
Sangeeta was hired by the Khobragade family in November, 2012 to work at its Delhi residence. Pleased by her work, it then asked Sangeeta to move to the U.S. with Devyani.
“Sangeeta too has two children and we thought she was apt to take care of Devyani’s kids. But in June, 2013 she went missing. We tried to locate her and even contacted her husband who told us that she wasn’t in touch with him. Later around September, she asked us to meet her at the consulate’s office. There she made three demands — $10,000 in cash, a normal Indian passport [she was on a diplomatic passport which was revoked soon after she absconded] and immigration support. We agreed to pay her the money but refused to fulfil the other two demands. In November, an Indian court had issued a non-bailable warrant against her on a criminal case filed by us. Now instead of serving the warrant and handing over Sangeeta to us, they flew Sangeeta’s family to the U.S. and arrested Devyani. This smells of a conspiracy,” Mr. Khobragade asserted.
“The clause under the visa application seeks salary details of the employer, so Deviyani’s salary details were given. They claim that $4,500 was Sangeeta’s salary, which is incorrect. The visa application was made by Sangeeta.”
Mr. Khobragade claimed that Rs. 30,000 was paid as monthly salary to Sangeeta along with accommodation and medical benefits. This met the requirement under the U.S. laws.
“I have learnt that a diary has been recovered from Sangeeta where she has stated that she was well kept by Devyani and that she had no complaint against her, so if there is no complaint, why was my daughter subjected to such inhumane treatment?”
He added that his daughter was a victim of an ego tussle. “The U.S. authorities cannot come to terms with the fact that my daughter didn’t succumb to their pressure and instead put up a brave fight. We filed a case against Sangeeta in India. This might have irked them and the action against my daughter is nothing but vengeance.”