India’s Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade was not only arrested and handcuffed in public view last week but also stripped and searched in the police station in New York, according to latest reports.
A furious Indian government Tuesday launched a diplomatic offensive against the US in retaliation for the humiliation of a top Indian diplomat over alleged visa fraud.
Dr. Devyani Khobragade, 39, the Indian deputy consul general in New York was hand-cuffed in public and subjected to a strip-search Dec. 12.
The envoy was later reportedly confined to a cell with drug addicts and common criminals and also subjected to a DNA swab.
The issue of Khobragade’s arrest is now threatening to snowball into a major diplomatic showdown between India and the US.
The Indian government has taken the matter very seriously and initiated a series of diplomatic offensives against the “barbaric treatment” meted out to its diplomat.
India has asked all US diplomats posted in consular offices in India to surrender the identity cards issued to them and their families, that entitle them to special privileges.
By this move their ID will “now be downgraded (to be) on par with what the US provides to our consulates there”, sources said.
The government also decided to withdraw airport passes for all US diplomatic staff and import clearances for the embassy, including liquor.
It has also asked for salary details of Indian staff employed in US consulates. This includes those working as domestic helps with the families of American officials.
Moreover, New Delhi has also asked for the visa and salary details of all teachers at US schools and details of their bank accounts.
The Delhi police, meanwhile, removed all traffic barricades outside the sprawling US embassy on Nyaya Marg in the capital, except the picket.
All these measures are clearly intended to send across a strong message to the US to treat a diplomat of a foreign country with respect and not the way it Dr. Khobragade was treated.
Khobragade was detained on a New York street while she was dropping her daughter to school and handcuffed publicly. She was later released on a $250,000 bail.
The diplomat has been accused of lying on her visa application for an Indian national who worked at her home from November 2012 to June 2013 for less than four dollars an hour.
Noel Clay, the US State Department spokesperson said that standard procedures had been followed during Khobragade’s arrest.
According to the US, she enjoyed only limited immunity. However, India has argued that the US has violated the Vienna Convention.
It said that even if a diplomat is arrested for an alleged serious crime, all courtesies must be extended to the diplomat and he/she must not be treated like a common criminal.
Senior political leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate have declined to meet a visiting US Congress delegation currently in Delhi.
The five-member delegation is led by congressman George Holding of North Carolina and other congressmen – Pete Olson, David Schweikert, Robert Woodall and Madeliene Bordallo.
Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, National Security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar also cancelled their meetings with the Americans.
Menon described Khobragade’s treatment as “despicable and barbaric.”
In the latest development the US has said it is reviewing the circumstances surrounding Khobragade arrest.
[No apology has so far been issued by the Obama administration. The official position is that this routine treatment of a foreign diplomat and that no apology is required. [GR Ed. M. Ch.]