News / Asia

US-India Diplomatic Spat Escalates

Policemen stand next to a bulldozer removing the security barriers in front of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi on December 17, 2013.
Policemen stand next to a bulldozer removing the security barriers in front of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi on December 17, 2013.
Reuters
Indian authorities removed concrete security barriers in front of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday in apparent retaliation for the arrest and allegedly heavy-handed treatment of an Indian diplomat in New York.
 
New Delhi police used tow trucks and a backhoe loader to drag away long concrete blocks from roads running past the embassy and leading up to gates of the compound, a Reuters witness said. The barriers had prevented vehicles from approaching the compound at high speeds.
 
Police and government officials refused to respond to repeated requests for comment on why the embassy barricades were taken away, but Indian television networks, citing unnamed sources, reported that the removal was one of several retaliatory measures that India planned to take.
 
A senior government official, who asked not to be named, said police posted in the area would ensure continued security.
 
“We take the security of all diplomatic missions in India very seriously. Checkposts are provided. This is only an issue related to traffic flows,” the official said.
 
In Washington, the U.S. State Department said it had told the Indian government at a “high” level that Washington expects New Delhi to protect its embassy and stressed it did not want the incident with the Indian diplomat to hurt bilateral ties.
 
“We understand there are sensitive issues involved here,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. “We don't want this to negatively impact our bilateral relationship.”
 
As the dispute over the diplomat's treatment grew, several top Indian politicians, including the leaders of the two main political parties and the national security adviser, refused to meet with a delegation of U.S. lawmakers visiting India this week.
 
India's National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon branded as “barbaric” the treatment of the diplomat, who according to Indian media was handcuffed upon arrest last week and strip-searched before being released on bail.
 
Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, was arrested on Thursday for allegedly underpaying her nanny and committing visa fraud to get her into the United States.
 
Khobragade, who was released on $250,000 bail after surrendering her passport and pleading not guilty to the charges, faces a maximum of 15 years in jail if convicted on both counts.
 
India has become a close trade and security partner of the United States over the past decade, but the two countries have not totally overcome a history of ties marked by distrust.
 
“Everything that can be done will be done, I assure you. We take this thing very seriously,” India's Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told TV news network CNN-IBN.
 
“We have put in motion what we believe will be an effective way of addressing this issue, but also put in motion such steps that we believe need to be taken to protect her dignity.”
 
Indian television networks said the other steps included checking the salaries paid by U.S. Embassy staff to domestic helpers and withdrawing consular identification cards and privileges such as access to airport lounges for some U.S. diplomats and their families.
 
India's Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Embassy said they were unable to comment on the media reports.
 
Khobragade's arrest triggered a fierce debate in India over how to respond to the alleged mistreatment of the helper.
 
Shashi Tharoor, an Indian government minister and former United Nations diplomat, said many envoys in New York from developing countries were themselves paid less than the U.S. minimum wage, adding that it was unrealistic to expect them to pay domestic staff more.
 
Eyes on election
 
Khobragade falsely stated in her nanny's visa application that she would be paid $9.75 an hour, a figure that would have been in line with the minimum rates required by U.S. law, according to a statement issued last week by the public attorney for the Southern District of New York.
 
The diplomat had privately agreed with the domestic worker that she would receive just over a third of that rate, the public attorney said.
 
With general elections due in less than six months, India's political parties are determined not to be labeled soft or unpatriotic.
 
Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, and Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family that leads India's ruling Congress party, both declined to meet the U.S. delegation.
 
“Refused to meet the visiting USA delegation in solidarity with our nation, protesting ill-treatment meted (out) to our lady diplomat in USA,” Modi said in a tweet.
 
A senior member of Modi's socially conservative party, currently the favorite to form the next government, said India should retaliate by putting partners of gay U.S. diplomats in the country behind bars.
 
India's Supreme Court last week effectively ruled homosexuality to be illegal.
 
“The reason why they have arrested this Indian diplomat in New York is violation of the law of the land in the United States. Now the same violation is taking place wherever U.S. Embassy official have obtained visas for their partners of the same sex,” former finance minister Yashwant Sinha told Reuters.
 
“If American law can apply to Indian diplomats in New York, the India law can apply here,” he said.
 
The case is the latest concerning alleged ill-treatment of domestic workers by India's elite, both at home and abroad.
 
In June 2011, an Indian maid working for the country's consul general in New York filed a lawsuit alleging that he was using her as forced labor. A member of parliament's wife was arrested last month for allegedly beating her maid to death at her home in Delhi.
 
Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, consular officials enjoy immunity from arrest only for crimes committed in connection with their work.
 
Harf, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman, on Monday said diplomatic security staff had followed standard procedures during Khobragade's arrest and then handed her over to U.S. Marshals. On Tuesday, she declined comment on whether Khobragade was strip-searched, referring such matters to the Marshals Service.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anoop from: India
December 23, 2013 12:40 AM
There's no denying the fact such harsh treatment is a clear case violations of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, according to which consular officials are not liable to arrest except in cases of grave crime.

In January 2011, US contractor Raymond Davis shot down civilians at street in Pakistan and he still got evacuated back to US under diplomatic immunity. Davis' name had been included on the list of diplomats serving in Pakistan only after he had committed the murders, which did not extend him immunity under the Vienna Convention. So real double standards when it comes to US citizen and folks from "Rest Of the World" (ROW).

Read more stories on US officials breaking rules around the world : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/US-diplomats-who-got-away-with-abuse/articleshow/27763592.cms

by: Sumit from: India
December 18, 2013 1:42 AM
First try to change your self.dont treat your black community like slave.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 17, 2013 11:55 PM
Deplomatic immunities contain the rights of deplomats not being detained or not being put into any trials in posted countries, does not they? What hosting country could do is only to deport him or her to motherland? It looks like there must have been a kind of mistreatment of U.S. Marshals for her violation.

by: Sven from: North America
December 17, 2013 8:19 PM
Have anyone looked at how many laws do US Diplomats obey in other countries.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23266149

The US Embassy owes over 63,000 congestion fines in London (U.K.) totaling 7.2m, William Hague said, but the US insists diplomatic immunity covers the congestion charge.

by: JKF from: Great North (Canada)
December 17, 2013 7:42 PM
Something is fundamentally wrong, either the person is a diplomat or not; if it is a diplomat then the immunity conventions apply. In any case, given the great potential for serious misunderstandings, a special diplomatic handling unit/org needs to be considered, given the many past mishandlings. This type of negative incidents can create a tremendous amount of ill will against the US and all Western diplomats around the world; like it or not, this type of harsh treatment is STUPIDITY AT WORK. Who knows how many Western diplomats will now be harrased? in many countries around the world, over an issue that should have been better handled, with more maturity, and more tact, rather than extreme enforcement, just because the law allows for such an extreme approach.

by: Bhupen from: San Francisco
December 17, 2013 7:25 PM
I remember some months ago that a US mercenary in Afghanistan was defended by US State Dept on the basis of 'diplomatic immunity' after he gunned down 2-3 people there. Lets talk about double standards.

by: People Forget
December 17, 2013 7:15 PM
People forget that not all contries are like US which is mostly always in order in the general sense and most people obey law and also fear law such as the police or repercussions. However in other countries in the east its not the same, for most they will take action first rather then wait for a law to be passed for the action to happen. The people there will group up they all understand each other for the most part and will rally for a gause of the neighbor. with that in mind what is happening its normal. and in the future work with that in mind.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs