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: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 17, 2013 7:55 PM
I would like to know which is more felonious for her violation, hireing house keepers for less than the legal minimal wages or frauding on her visa applications.

In Response

by: suman from: India
December 19, 2013 1:19 AM
Please let me know the reason why USA govt pays less salary to citizen of other countries working in their consulate and embassies and schools. USA can not assume high moral ground. This is against ethics, discriminatory and outrageous.


by: Lord Zed from: London
December 17, 2013 6:48 PM
Firstly, Ms. Khobgrade is a consular officer and not a diplomat - so she does not enjoy diplomatic immunity. Kudos to the US legal system for doing the right thing when the Indian government and civil service are actively trying to justify the exploitation of a poor maid by a well-connected civil servant. Incidentally, the vast Indian population seems to be in full support of Ms. Khobgrade's prosecution while her supporters seem limited to only fellow civil servants and politicians who are guilty of similar crimes.
The fact is that nobody (not even the Khobragades) denies that Ms Khobgrade was paying the maid far lesser than she was legally obliged to. Again nobody denies that Ms Khobgrade wilfully lied on a visa application.
Secondly, the Khobgrades seem to have a record of thinking they are above the law - she owned an apartment (at very favourable rates) in the scandalous Adarsh Housing society (which was meant for Kargil war widows and not fat cat civil servants) and failed to disclose that she already owned another government apartment in the same city. This is against the rules and would have made her ineligible for the second apartment.

The writer is not balanced and tries to justify the visa crime committed by saying that Ms Khobragade couldn't afford to pay the maid's official salary. That does not justify anything!! What next, leniency for drug smugglers because they needed the extra money to pay for their children's private schools?!!

How shameful that the Indian government and civil servants are so eager and vocal about defending a clear violation of law and yet appallingly silent when it comes to basic human rights of poor Indian labourers exploited in the Middle East or in this case, poor Indian maid exploited in the US by a fellow Indian who hypocritically claims to be a champion for women's rights and gender equality!!! Whatever the reasons behind it, the fact is that the arrest of Devyani Khobragade is a welcome sign that at least sometime and in some places, the law does work!

Wake up India, don't support for a wrong cause.

In Response

by: Akshay Dubey from: Delhi
December 18, 2013 9:42 AM
Well i applaud the stuff stand taken by the Indian govt, regarding this matter.
The U.S. authorities & the citizens should understand that its not the matter of Slavery or related with an immigrance.
The manner she was arrested, being a foriegn govt,'s cosulate, for a miniscule allegation was barbaric, being publicly handcuffed and then repeatedly strip-searched, as if she was engaged in a serious crime.

Apart from the way Mrs. Kobragade was treated, there is an issue whether she broke US law by paying his domestic help less than the minimum wages.
When i look deeper i found that its totally a grey area. And in that if indeed the law was broken then why did the US embassy gave VISA for domestic help at all, knowing fully well that the minimum wage was actually more than Mrs. Kobragade's own salary !?
And on the other hand, Indian govt. before hand ensured that the help isn't exploited as the Maid's medical insurance, food, lodging and travel for home for vacation, were all paid by the Indian Government itself.

This surely, tells us about the double standards in U.S. laws.



by: Texan from: Texas
December 17, 2013 6:36 PM
These over-reactions by India are suicidal to the relationship with the USA as Pakistan may be enjoying it looking at their nuclear arsenal. It seems Indians are corrupt, over-reacting angry upstarts. The USA need to fix this problem.

In Response

by: TD from: Belgium
December 20, 2013 4:48 AM
Taxas! India is not Afghanistan.. Be careful USA , India is one of most powerful nation in Asia and USA need India more than India do, to fight with china . It seem you have very little knowledge regarding international affair on country's position.


by: Chinese American from: Washington
December 17, 2013 4:07 PM
She got what she really deserved for cheating the system and for bullying and being so mean to a poor maid. That is so typical of an Indian American.

Indians are known to be mean and disrespectful to "lower class", poor people; while at the same time, kissing up and pretending to be nice to "upper class" or white people. This is from its thousands years of "caste" culture and hundreds of years colonialism under Britain.

In my opinion, In percentage terms, Indians are the meanest people and most blatant liars and most racist people (towards poor people only, including their own -- poor indians, not towards British or American white people).

In Response

by: Tony Singh from: Delhi
December 18, 2013 9:12 AM
Get your facts right wise guy. Here are the points for you to ponder upon
1. The diplomat herself belongs to "Lower caste" you are refering to
2. No diplomat of developing world gets the salary let alone domestic help.. If USA wants to have diplomatic relations with those countries then it has to accept the fact.
3. How about wealthy American farmers in down south employing Mexican farm helps for fraction of prescribed wages? Did you ever hear any such farmer put behind bar? After all law is only a Law when country applies it uniformly without prejudice.
5. Your very act painting all Indians with same brush is a proof that you are a bigger RACIST than the people you accuse of being.


by: rachel from: london
December 17, 2013 4:07 PM
Simple Solution

India should continue to destroy the middle class of america but now india should accelerate it as a matter of state policy similar to the chinese 1) by exporting and subsidizing its brain power talent of doctors, engineers, scientists and capture the upper income job and wages 2) Outsource everything they has even the basic process to the backwaters of india and futher destroy the lower american wages category.

In a decade or two with the chinese in the picture america will be left with mcondals, robots doing most factory jobs, the koch brother type conservatives futher destroy americas social and welfare fabric, the mexicans working the illegal economy and the angry white folks wondering what happened to there country and economic story and add in the kim kardashan type highschool kids who do not study math or science to save there lives.. it is so easy to destroy america.. those super shakes, all you can eat buffets, netflix lazy types, welfare retards, no hard work, kanye west, hip hop culture.. hahahahahaha

devyani will push people to work harder to destroy the american middle class dream forever..


by: K. Rammurthy from: Gilbert
December 17, 2013 4:02 PM
For a nation of a billion scarred by the 2012 rape and murder of “Nirbhaya” the thought of US Marshalls body-cavity-searching a female Indian diplomat for an unrelated, alleged and unproven infraction is judicial rape. Period.

As a duly sworn in US citizen, My sincere apologies to the Indian diplomat and the nation of India for this state sanctioned rape conducted by my fellow citizen (“US Marshalls”).

In Response

by: amir from: detroit
December 18, 2013 10:59 PM
how the hell can it be considered rape when the strip search was done by female officers smart one? Just more excuses by white americans to justify your hatred of americas first black president. Simple as that.


by: Alexander Exum from: Brazil
December 17, 2013 3:49 PM
I've been arrested by U.S. Marshall's and know first hand their "Gestopo" mentality. The NYPD is correct in saying they followed standard arresting procedure when they arrested the diplomat, which is to subject everyone to the same humiliating experience, no matter the level of the suspected offense.
I'm an American citizen living abroad, and returned to the States a few tears ago to answer an indictment concerning Social Security, which was eventually resolved, although it took six months of jail time before it was. Although I had come back on my own, I was denied bail because, since I lived outside of the country, I represented a "flight risk." Not only did they manipulate my. Seating on the plane so that I was seated with a Marshall, but they delayed passengers leaving the plane before they came on put me in leg irons and handcuffs. Coupled with their tactics, my beard and mixed race ethnicity that might profile as Middle Eastern, I'm sure the passengers thought I was a terrorist, or at least a big time criminal. I won't even mention what it was like for a 78 year old man like me to spend six months in a regional jail. The whole experience was an eye opener. It could happen to anyone, diplomatic immunity with standing.


by: Donald Berrian from: Masschusetts
December 17, 2013 3:24 PM
It would be more traditional to just throw her out of the country. In a country like ours with millions of illegals and thousands of sweat shops, a Visa violation hardly constitutes a novelty. These laws are regularly ignored. If there were some evidence of physical abuse of the employee, arresting the employer might be justified. Otherwise, this looks like a very selective enforcement of the laws and doesn't make much sense unless there is some personal grudge involved.


by: Arun from: Germany
December 17, 2013 3:10 PM
United states of Arrogance....

In Response

by: amir from: detroit
December 18, 2013 11:01 PM
Maybe u europeans should sort out your own problems before attacking america for its problems. God knows your german controlled EU has plenty of them.


by: KS from: USA
December 17, 2013 3:03 PM
So an Indian diplomat abuses her female housekeeper by under paying her in violation of the law and then compounds the offense by fraudulently reporting an over-inflated salary to authorities; then the government of India, a country that treats the brutal rape of it's citizens as a minor irritant, feigns outrage at alleged reports of the diplomat's strip search upon her arrest? Hmmmm, I wonder on which side Gandhii would fall?

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