The Indo-U.S. stalemate has come to an end with the Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who was at the centre of the storm, having left for India, said a Friday morning statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Officially, she has been posted to the MEA headquarters in New Delhi.
The diplomat left a day after the U.S. State Department gave her an amended visa due to her transfer last month from the Indian Consulate in New York to the Indian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in the same city. The U.S. had justified the arrest and search of Dr. Khobragarde on December 12, 2013 and contended that she cannot escape prosecution because a consular officer does not enjoy full immunity.
According to the MEA, the U.S. made the same request on Thursday and India rejected it again.
The departure of Dr. Khobragarde was facilitated by the change in visa status that came after a wait of over a fortnight since the U.N. had forwarded her application to the U.S. State Department. Indian diplomats posted at the U.N. enjoy the status of full diplomatic immunity while its consular staff do not get all the privileges.
Officials said, India and the U.S. are set to resume discussions to bring greater intensity in bilateral ties with then end of the tussle over the prosecution of the diplomat in a U.S. court over visa fraud charges. The first major interaction could be that of Energy Secretary Ernest Monitz whose visit was announced as cancelled merely 12 hours back.
A MEA statement said Dr. Khobragade was accorded the privileges and immunities of a diplomatic envoy under the terms of Section 15 of the Headquarters Agreement between the United Nations and the United States on January 8.
At the same time, the U.S. government requested the government of India to waive the immunity of Ms. Khobragade. On January 9, the government declined to do so and transferred Ms. Khobragade to the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
At the time of her departure for India, Ms. Khobragade reiterated her innocence on charges filed against her. She affirmed her gratitude to the Indian Government, in particular to the External Affairs Minister, and the people of India, as also the media, for their strong and sustained support during this period.
She also affirmed her determination to ensure that the episode would not leave a lasting impact on her family, in particular, her children, who are still in the United States.