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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs