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India-US Dispute Escalates as Diplomat Heads Home

FILE - Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general, attends the India Studies Stony Brook University fundraiser event in Long Island, New York, Dec. 8, 2013.
FILE - Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general, attends the India Studies Stony Brook University fundraiser event in Long Island, New York, Dec. 8, 2013.
Anjana Pasricha
— India has asked the American embassy in New Delhi to withdraw one of its officers in an escalation of a diplomatic dispute over an Indian diplomat who was detained on visa fraud charges in the U.S.  The Indian woman at the center of the dispute was allowed to fly home but ties between the two countries remain fragile.

Devyani Khobragade boarded a flight to her native country after New Delhi refused to waive her diplomatic immunity. The move would have made her liable to face criminal charges of visa fraud and lying about how much she paid her Indian household help.

She was indicted on those two counts by a federal grand jury in New York on Thursday.

"The government of India declined to do so [waive her immunity] and transferred counselor Khobragade to the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi," Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters.  "At the time of her departure to India, counselor Khobragade reiterated her innocence of charges filed against her.” 

Related video clip: Syed Akbaruddin, Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesman 

Indian Diplomat Returns Home Amid US Disputei
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January 10, 2014 11:14 AM
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, at the center of a dispute with the United States, is returning to her homeland Friday. The U.S. ordered her to leave for allegedly lying on a visa application for her maid.

After India’s refusal to waive the immunity, U.S. authorities asked the diplomat to leave the country.   Her return to India is believed to be part of a deal between New Delhi and Washington to cool the dispute that erupted following her arrest a month ago.

There was both official and public outrage in India that Khobragade was handcuffed and strip-searched after being detained, which the U.S. called "standard procedure". New Delhi is also incensed that the family of the diplomat’s maid was flown out of India by the U.S. 

The maid alleged that she was forced to work long hours and was paid less than the U.S. minimum wage. Indian officials accuse the maid of an immigration con and say she was blackmailing the diplomat.  

As his daughter flew home, the diplomat’s father, Uttam Khobragade called the outcome "a victory for India".  "Devyani today left the U.S. soil with full diplomatic immunity, vindicating the stand that whatever dispute being raised in the U.S. is a prerogative of sovereign country, India, and only can be adjudicated by Indian courts,” the senior Indian retired bureaucrat said.

Diplomatic maneuvers

After the U.S. said it could not drop charges against the diplomat, India sought a way out by posting Khobragade to its United Nations mission in the U.S. where she would get full immunity. The U.S. gave the full diplomatic status that went with her new job after more than two weeks - just a day before her indictment. The delay also angered India.

Both countries say they do not want the episode to sour the relationship, but it may not be easy to put it behind. While bilateral ties grew rapidly over the last decade, there has been a drift in recent years, and this episode may deepen the problems.  

The United States says it will withdraw a diplomat from its embassy in New Delhi after India demanded the expulsion, in the growing dispute.

Wayne May has been identified as the diplomat leaving the U.S. embassy.  Media reports say he was instrumental in coordinating the case against Khobragade.  He also is reported to have helped the family of the housekeeper receive visas allowing them to go to the U.S.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday that she hopes the move will bring closure to the situation.

"We deeply regret that the Indian government felt it was necessary to expel one of our diplomatic personnel," she said. "This has clearly been a challenging time in the U.S.-India relationship."

The spokeswoman did not identify the U.S. diplomat who will be withdrawn from India.

Already two high-level visits by U.S. officials to India have been postponed  - one by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Nisha Desai Biswal, who was due here last week, and the other by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who was to come next week.

In recent days, New Delhi has unleashed several measures to curtail privileges enjoyed by American diplomats in India and bring them on par with those extended to Indian diplomats in the U.S.  It has also asked the U.S. embassy to close a club inside its premises to all outsiders, including American expatriates.

Ongoing tensions

Manoj Joshi at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi said it will take time for the two countries to get past the incident. 

“Beyond the general sense of bad feeling which came out, there is some amount of mistrust which has developed between the two [foreign] ministries. That will remain. There seems to be a certain amount of bitterness,” Joshi said.

Indian media report that New Delhi had been contemplating more retaliatory measures if the standoff was not resolved. The charges against the diplomat remain pending, and will be revived if she returns to the United States without diplomatic immunity.

That is seen as a problem since her husband is a U.S. citizen.

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by: Anonymous
January 12, 2014 11:35 AM
FROM Washington: The United States on Friday said accused criminal Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who returned to New Delhi, no longer enjoys immunity and she and Indian government were told that an arrest warrant might be issued against her.

"Prior to her (Devyani Khobragade) departure, it was conveyed to her and to the government of India that she is not permitted to return to the United States except to submit to the jurisdiction of the court.

"Her name would be placed in visa and immigration lookout systems to prevent the routine issuance of any future visa and upon her departure a warrant may be issued for her arrest", the State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, told reporters.

Ms Khobragade's departure from the US, she said, does not change the charges against her.

On Thursday, she was indicted in a New York court on two counts of visa fraud and misrepresentation of facts.

"The charges remain in place. There are processes that are standard processes in each of these cases, which we were abiding by throughout this process," the State Department spokesperson insisted.d States on Friday said senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who returned to New Delhi, no longer enjoys immunity and she and Indian government were told that an arrest warrant might be issued against her.

"Prior to her (Devyani Khobragade) departure, it was conveyed to her and to the government of India that she is not permitted to return to the United States except to submit to the jurisdiction of the court.

"Her name would be placed in visa and immigration lookout systems to prevent the routine issuance of any future visa and upon her departure a warrant may be issued for her arrest", the State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, told reporters.

Ms Khobragade's departure from the US, she said, does not change the charges against her.

On Thursday, she was indicted in a New York court on two counts of visa fraud and misrepresentation of facts.

"The charges remain in place. There are processes that are standard processes in each of these cases, which we were abiding by throughout this process," the State Department spokesperson insisted.


by: Nahilu Simbot from: USA
January 11, 2014 5:29 PM
The civil law suit is not far away.....Devyani and her husband better protect their assets in the US...otherwise there will be a giant siphoning sound from their bank accounts to Ms. Richard's account sooner or later....


by: wilfredo diaz from: marietta,ga
January 11, 2014 9:58 AM
What does indian country think?this so call consulate india officer can brake our laws in our soil?l bet if we would brake their laws in their impoverish country they will act too as we did,so they better bug off.

In Response

by: Deepu from: Oman
January 13, 2014 2:57 AM
http://duckduckduckdoge.tumblr.com/
Please read the link..here you can see a breach of law as a counselor

In Response

by: Cameron Diaz from: garietta, ma
January 11, 2014 11:03 PM
How does one brake laws?


by: Mark from: UK
January 11, 2014 9:31 AM
Its quite disturbing to see how American government disrespect international laws.
Whether she did something wrong or not you cant just arrest a diplomat of another country and strip-search them.
There is a procedure to follow and i very much believe India and all other countries should treat US diplomat (arresting and strip-search them) the same way they're treated in USA.


by: KBp from: India
January 11, 2014 8:11 AM
Common you saint...just imagine your response had any of your diplomats meet same fate in india.. Maybe that Indian Diplomat was guilty but she was representing a nation and state should have bring this to notice of Indian authorities and take action taking india in confidence. you saint people cant just handcuff and strip search a person who is representing a nation without even a notice. Devyani had already reported missing maid way earlier but you people did not act an on an unauthorized person in your country.. you plotted to bring her family to America without even informing indian authorities.. this is a disrespect to a nation whom you people call a strategic partner on international platform... Its not that you followed law of land... its about despising your strategic partner by not apprising of any possible action that you can take on their diplomat.... you people think you are very smart and can do anything you can... but cry foul if similar fate is met when your residents are in danger.... this is backstabbing and insulting a reliable partner on internation platform.. dont just try to be a saint by following law but first become a reliable and trusted friend of your strategic partner... Here you failed by not informing indian authorities about an alleged crime done by their diplomat and illegally smuggling people from india to US... Giving her asylum whithout informing indian authorities shows your demenor of racism and underestimating indians.

Hey, may be you dont understand the meaning of the word diplomatic immunity! Article 47 of Vienna convention clearly states that what we decide to pay to an Indian maid is our concern. Stop playing dumb US! Just apologize..

Your main fault is... WHY DID YOU NOT KEEP INDIAN AUTHORITIES IN LOOP WHILE TAKING ANY ACTION ON THEIR DIPLOMAT OR TRAFFICKING PEOPLE FROM INDIA.. you did not follow the rule of diplomacy and try to show off that you care about your own law of land... common you doble face saints


by: James from: USA
January 10, 2014 8:10 PM
The more I look at Deyvani the uglier she gets.

In Response

by: tejas from: kochi,india
January 11, 2014 12:32 AM
our diplomats are enjoying lot of previleges which are not available to indian diplomats in US.why we are providing so much previleges to a bully nation?the message from india is very clear.india didnt do any provocatory action instead it is trying to cut those previlages (which india grants to US and Russia only) which are not availble to indian diplomats in US.americans will get everything in accordance with vienna convntion but dont expect anything more.dont expect any concessions . remember india is not a banana republic.remeber when the american diplomat killed pakistanies you people are arguing for diplomatic immunity and pakistanies granted diplomatic immunity to that murder.atleast indian diplomat didnt killed anyone.see that is clearly a double standard from americans.if you want to show your big D*** go and show it to pakistanies iraqies afghanies or iranies.because we are not scared of you.THIS IS NOT OVER YET.because we are not even.if we want to get even there should be some arrest.so dont tell me we have done so much against US.this is just a starting.i have always supported americas war against terrorism but you should teach your department of home affairs how to behave with foreign diplomats.from my observation americas future is very clear it will ended up as china's b****.if you want to despatch F22 or F35 you r very welcome to try that.INDIA IS WORLDS 4th STRONGEST MILITARY POWER.so if you want to conclude things that way go on (most indians love or respect america,and most americans hate india but i have no respect for americans or british,but i love french and russians).jai hind


by: Brownhair from: Southside
January 10, 2014 12:55 PM
The American decision is justified. On the other hand, Indian media fueled this conflict by making up videos and complicating things.


by: Fareed Ansari from: San Francisco
January 10, 2014 9:48 AM
Why is India having a Hissy Fit over its' indicted "diplomat" who immediately left the country? What is the premiss for all this bitterness from India? Perhaps time will allow cooler more responsible and equitable behavior to ensue. I can understand the embarrassment but India's reaction has only drawn more attention to a matter that should have been handled more discretely and with justice to the victim.


by: Mehtasaab from: Washington, DC
January 10, 2014 9:03 AM
I don't understand how Preet Bharara can do this to her without understanding consequences of this mess. Department of Preet Bharara can make mistake like this. Now India will retaliate. There will be no end. Davyani violated US law, but crime was not that serious, otherwise India would have waived immunity. I am not a lawyer, but I do understand law. Now India is asking one of the US officer to leave India.


by: Sara from: USA
January 10, 2014 8:49 AM
All these diplomats is a total scam they sit on their buts in wealthy NYC condos all paid by governments, while their country man suffer from starvation poverty etc...., it's a completely corrupt system these people have no business helping other people it's all a facade to their well paid life styles.

In Response

by: Mish from: India
January 10, 2014 11:36 PM
Well said this Indian diplomats has a habit of doing all crock ways, as they got this posting either by political back or paying Havey kick back to their superiors. They enjoy and waste money for lavish life in other countries and Indian 70% person of people are malnourished and thousand of kids sleep on the street without food. Treating inhuman to their maid is common. This diplomet she own flat in Indian which suppose to be for widows.

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