India keeps up pressure on U.S. diplomats

December 27, 2013 02:18 pm | Updated November 16, 2021 06:08 pm IST - Washington

The Association of Indian Diplomats, headed by the former Deputy National Security Advisor Leela Ponappa, which backed “strict reciprocity,” on Friday called on the government to insist on withdrawal of all charges against diplomat Devyani Khobragade and spoke of a “deep sense of outrage” over her arrest on December 12 on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her domestic help.

A day earlier, Indian diplomats working at the United Nations found out that Ms. Khobragade in fact enjoyed full diplomatic status at the time of her arrest. While reconstructing the chain of events, they found that she had been accredited to the United Nations as a full diplomat, although this was temporary — from August to December-end — and meant mainly to facilitate Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit.

In another development, officials put the blame for the entire Khobragade episode on U.S. authorities not replying to their earlier queries. After the Washington mission received the State Department's September letter asking for an internal probe into issue of Ms. Khobragade’s domestic help, New Delhi asked the U.S. authorities to act on its earlier request for tracing the absconding woman. But there was no response.

Another letter on October 8 refuted U.S. allegations and asked for assistance in implementing a court injunction against the help, Sangeeta Richard. Again there was no response.

On November 19, a Metropolitan Magistrate in Delhi issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Ms. Richard. The MEA forwarded the warrant to the State Department and the U.S. Embassy on December 6. Yet, barely a week later, Ms. Khobragade was arrested in New York. And two days before that, Ms. Richard's family was “evacuated” from India and flown to the U.S. on tickets purchased by its embassy here.

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