News / Asia

US Arrest of Indian Diplomat Sparks Dispute

A police officer stops a group of Indians protesting against the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian consular officer in New York, outside the U.S consulate in Hyderabad, India, Dec. 16, 2013.A police officer stops a group of Indians protesting against the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian consular officer in New York, outside the U.S consulate in Hyderabad, India, Dec. 16, 2013.
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A police officer stops a group of Indians protesting against the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian consular officer in New York, outside the U.S consulate in Hyderabad, India, Dec. 16, 2013.
A police officer stops a group of Indians protesting against the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian consular officer in New York, outside the U.S consulate in Hyderabad, India, Dec. 16, 2013.
Anjana Pasricha
The treatment of an Indian diplomat arrested in New York on visa fraud charges has turned into a diplomatic dispute between Washington and New Delhi.  Top officials boycotted a visiting U.S. Congressional delegation in protest over the incident.
 
The Indian diplomat at the heart of escalating tensions between India and Washington is Devyani Khobragade, 39, deputy consul general at the Indian consulate in New York.
 
She was arrested on Thursday in New York while dropping her daughter off at school. She faces criminal charges of lying on a visa form about how much she paid her housekeeper.
 
In India, there is outrage at reports that she was handcuffed in public, later strip- searched and briefly held in a jail cell with drug addicts. She was released on $250,000 bail, after pleading not guilty.
 
Indian officials described the diplomat's treatment as "humiliating, despicable and barbaric".
 
Indian Foreign Minister, Salman Khurshid, said Tuesday that New Delhi takes the incident very seriously.

“We feel very extreme level of distress in terms of human element that is involved. A person, the officer being subjected to that form of indignity is for us completely unacceptable," he said. "Therefore, I can only say this to you, whatever needs to be done is being done. It is already in process. We have put in motion what we believe would be effective way of addressing this issue.”
 
In a diplomatic rebuff, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde canceled his meeting with a five-member delegation of U.S.Congressmen which is visiting New Delhi. Ruling Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi and opposition leader Narendra Modi also canceled their meetings with the group.
 
New Delhi also asked all officials at U.S. consulates in India to return identity cards which give them diplomatic benefits. This is among a slew of measures India is reported to be mulling to review immunity and benefits enjoyed by the consulates.
 
The U.S. says New York police followed standard procedures in arresting the diplomat. On Monday in Washington, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson, Marie Harf was asked about diplomatic immunity for Devyani Khobragade.
 
“There are different kinds of immunity," noted Harf. "This isn't just in the U.S., it's all around the world. So in this case, she fell under that specific kind of immunity, and would be liable to arrest pending trial pursuant a felony arrest warrant."
 
U.S. prosecutors allege Khobragade was paying her housekeeper less than the legal minimum wage, which was much less than the approximately $4,500 a month she stated on visa applications.

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by: Roger from: New York, NY
December 20, 2013 2:54 AM
Got to love the duplicity of the situation. Everyday, all around us, millions of mexicans, many (almost all) of them illegals, mow our lawns, deliver food to our doors, wash our cars, sell flowers at signals, hand out menus & pamplets at street corners, and we, in our hypocritcal ways, lap up the free ride, never for once wondering or even pausing to wonder if they're being paid, yes, our minimum wage.

But wait, suddenly, magically, we develop a conscience!! How dare this Indian diplomat treat her maid so poorly. Such travesty that the maid be paid a monthly salary of Rs. 30000 in India, (about 10 times the salary of any maid there and about what a programmer gets paid), and a measly allowance here in New York City. How dare she be housed in an apartment in Central Manhattan (where even many Wall Streeters can't afford to live), get free food and a meagre allowance.

Guess what, that's a better life than many many unfortunate Americans know of, living on cold hungry streets and dark alleyways. And yeah, we're sure that each one of them many thousand Scandanavian nannys in New York City gets paid, yes, comfortably more than our minimum wage. So really was this about some DA caring for one of New York City's many million wretched underpaid souls or about an overzealous expat with longing political ambitions chasing after yet another high profile figure, hmmm just an interesting thought...

Who cares anyways , let's just get out there on that white horse and alienate yet another friendly nation, one of the few we have left in a hostile corner. Let's just give their Director of External Affairs the white glove treatment and a cavity search, just so we can hold our chins high in righteousness, that too if we must, in a day and age of Backscatter X-Ray Scanners, them see-it-all machines, omnipresent at every airport security gate! Sure, lets just alienate the one country that three different administrations wooed with great difficulty to just about become a bit more pro-american.

Guess what, the scorned ones are very vengeful, watch them start importing Iranian oil again, watch them buy aircraft from Airbus instead of Boeing, watch them hand out industrial contracts to Siemens instead of GE, watch them vote against American initiatives at the UN. Watch them lean once again towards China and Russia. Hmmm....there are no rights or wrongs in diplomacy, they say, just permanent interests. Perhaps our lawmakers need be reminded what Sir Isaac Newton once said “Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.” It might still not be too late to correct this one.

by: Myron E Zorger from: Fallon, NV
December 19, 2013 3:00 PM
Let's talk about the US Female Citizens raped in 'india"
Let's stop using 'indians' for telecommunications workers!
Let's talk about 'indian' bigotry!
Let's stop shopping for body parts in 'india'!
In Response

by: Suman from: India
December 20, 2013 12:27 AM
Use google and see how many US female citizens are raped in their own country and how many citizens of other countries were raped by USA military men like Afganistan so better avoid going too far in this line. USA is superpower in every field and no one can force them to use Indians for telecommunication work. Why not USA citizen themselves use product and services available in their own country. Why they are dependent on China for cheap imports and India for cheap services. Use your anger and start doing work for your own country just as I have decided not to use any American product for entire my life I will use Indian products instead.

Why you consider India is dependent on USA. We have survived seating in opposite camp during cold war era. We are not afraid of living within our means unlike your concern that USA is fast loosing its superpower status by every passing day. We respected America for freedom provided to every one to do whatever they want so we saw so many scientist , entrepreneur in USA between 1940-2000. Don't you think attitude of USA has changed as they are no longer more open, tolerant and respectful towards every human without looking for theit country of origin. You do not take action against Russian diplomats, Chinese as you know you will receive tit for tat.

India is poor but we are growing and we have presence in every field be it nuclear missile , space,nuclear submarines, Aircraft career, Information technology, healthcare etc. I admit that we are inferior to you in all the above mentioned field but do you think that you will always maintain the gap. Learn from story of UK and British empire where are they now.... Germany is having better economy than both UK and France but why you don't give permanent position in security council.

So it is better we should concentrate on what we contribute to our nation instead of blaming other for inherent weakness of your economy and system. Stop using credit card , tries living within your means , do not use borrowed money and don't compel your Govt. to raise you debt limit which is in double figure in trillion dollars. Its painful to see that world's best democracy is insulting world's largest democracy.

by: Anonymous
December 19, 2013 10:36 AM
The actions taken by the US are a disgrace to the world, over the 911 incident. Just because a dozen or so terrorists commit heinous crimes does not mean you punish the innocent. This is bad behaviour, treat everyone like terrorists until proven otherwise. All this did was grow more hatred against the US policies around the world.

by: Sudip Sharma from: Kathmandu
December 19, 2013 10:28 AM
INDIA Please feel the pain of being dominated and correct your behavior around your vicinity. Nepal is fed up with your "BIG BROTHERLY" role.
In Response

by: Suman from: India
December 20, 2013 12:34 AM
You are right to a great extent.But dear friend common citizens of India have great respect for your country. As a Indian citizen I am sorry that some of our Govt. actions might have have offended you. People to people contact between our two country is so strong that political or Govt. action can not create a wage between our two countries.

by: Che Wright from: usa
December 18, 2013 8:46 PM
I do not believe most Americans understand the level of disgrace this brings upon the consulate official. It should have been handled more diplomatically before she was strip searched, she is not guilty of a violent crime worth 250,000 bond, and the police either did not care about international relations or are ignorant. Nobody forced her housekeeper to work for her. I agree she was wrong to lie about wage on visa but prove she had not intended to pay that at the start before she underpaid, they cannot. The punishment does not fit the crime. Ny should be ashamed, if a us woman was stripped in new dehli when she had immunity it would be huge too and us americans are used to it and not subjected to the same shame and social implications as indian women.
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 19, 2013 6:57 PM
I agree the punishment does not fit the crime. I guess there is still a racial and sexual discrimination. I wonder how the matter was treated if the suspect was a white male.

by: Terence from: New Delhi
December 18, 2013 9:53 AM
It is all about how US treats people from different parts of the world .so what If the declaration on the visa form does not justify the wage as per US , the issue is not what is wrong on her part , its is what is wrong on US part as well .
Question is , was the whole procedure and act was RIGHT ,??? Above all the dignity of the offcial also needs to be taken into concideration . Forget about any other thing.
Must wake up now and be more vigilant when dealing with America, thnks
In Response

by: amir from: detroit
December 18, 2013 10:51 PM
America is a land of immigrants with people from all over the world. I think it is in a much better position then a country like india when it comes to dealing with the rest of the world. This woman was practicing slave labor on the victim employed to her. She broke not just US law but the global law of human rights.

by: Caite from: USA
December 18, 2013 8:34 AM
It may be time for the USA to warn India. This country thinks that USA is a playground for outsourcing jobs and messing up with our economy.
In Response

by: Dinesh from: Washington
December 19, 2013 7:38 AM
Your comment is of poor taste. Please be sensible in what you comment. The crime she committed was not a heinous. It may be acceptable for an American to strip searched. But Indians consider it as harassment.
In Response

by: Suman from: India
December 19, 2013 1:14 AM
No body stops USA to close outsourcing. Its pure economic sense for US companies and they benefit. No body mess with your economy american themselves are responsible they use borrowed money to purchase cheap goods and print USD and use bond purchase to artificially support the economy. Americam lives beyond their means. Don't blame others for your economic mess.

by: Vincent from: Morris
December 18, 2013 6:38 AM
This just goes on to prove that US of A is just another banana republic that flouts Vienna Conventions again and again. Grow up USA. Rest of the world is not as backward as you.
In Response

by: amir from: detroit
December 18, 2013 10:53 PM
Yes because practicing indentured slavery isn't considered backwords to u indians right?

by: American from: New Jersey
December 17, 2013 11:05 PM
Don't understand the issue here, the Indian lied on the visa and was caught by the officials and being rightly prosecuted...has anyone thought about the poor Indian who is being made to work as a slave here?? I hope this liar gets prosecuted
In Response

by: Dinesh from: Washington
December 19, 2013 7:41 AM
Slave ? I think you have more insights than any of us here. To my knowledge, she lied on her visa about her maids salary. That is different from treating one as slave like what you Americans did all along.

by: powerandprivilege from: USA
December 17, 2013 7:58 PM
The whole episode sounds fishy. There are thousands of illegals working at hotels and restaurants in the USA. The NYPD must have given into some political pressure from special interest groups.
In Response

by: Che Wright from: usa
December 18, 2013 8:48 PM
Agreed
In Response

by: American from: NJ
December 18, 2013 10:16 AM
Still doesnt give the woman the right to enslave someone, its like when caught speeding, you try to tell the cop 'officer why didnt you catch the other guys who were going faster than me' ;) ...you know it wont work :)
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