US hopes Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade's arrest won't affect bilateral ties

Written by PTI | Washington | Updated: Dec 15 2013, 05:36am hrs
Indian diplomat
The US has hoped that the major diplomatic row over the arrest of the Indian Deputy Consul General in New York will not affect bilateral ties with India, which has strongly reacted to the treatment meted out to the senior diplomat terming it "absolutely unacceptable".

Following India issuing a strong demarche to the US Ambassador in New Delhi and forcefully taking up the matter, the State Department said it was handling the issue.

"We are handling this incident through law enforcement channels. We have a long-standing partnership with India, and we expect that partnership will continue," US State Department spokesperson told PTI.

India's Deputy Counsel General Devyani Khobragade, a 1999-batch IFS officer, was taken into custody on Thursday as she was dropping her daughter to school and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges before being released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty.

The State Department, however, refused to comment on the specifics of the case, describing it as a pending matter in the court.

39-year-old Khobragade's arrest, only a day after Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, accompanied by the Joint Secretary incharge of Americas division in External Affairs Ministry, concluded her highly successful Washington trip, has caused a major diplomatic crisis between India and the US.

Lodging a strong protest against the arrest of of Deputy Consul General in New York, India has conveyed to the US that such kind of a treatment to its diplomat is "absolutely unacceptable".

"It was conveyed in no uncertain terms that this kind of treatment to one of our diplomats is absolutely unacceptable," the Indian Embassy said in a statement here yesterday after the Charge d'Affaires Taranjit Singh Sandhu met senior officials of the US State Department.

"It was emphasised that Dr Devyani Khobragade is a diplomat, who is in the US in pursuance of her duties and hence is entitled to the courtesy due to a diplomat in the country of her work. She is also a young mother of two small children," the statement said.

"Government of India is shocked and appalled at the manner in which she has been humiliated by the US authorities," it said.

Sandhu also asked the US officials to resolve the matter at the earliest during the meeting.

In Delhi, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh summoned US Ambassador Nancy Powell yesterday to convey India's "shock" over "absolutely unacceptable" treatment meted out to the senior Indian diplomat.

"Government of India is shocked and appalled at the manner in which she has been humiliated by the US authorities," the statement said.

Sandhu also asked the US officials to resolve the matter at the earliest during the meeting.

In Delhi, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh summoned US Ambassador Nancy Powell yesterday to convey India's "shock" over "absolutely unacceptable" treatment meted out to the senior Indian diplomat.

After the arrest, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal discussed the matter with the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Embassy.

Eminent Indian-American attorney Ravi Batra said in the absence of a category for diplomatic foreign domestic workers, which exempts them from US labour laws, including, wages and hours, American laws must be followed to avoid both criminal and civil liability.

"Foreign nations who pay their workers at or near US labour rates are free from this risk. However, of 194 countries, most nations are below US-mandated hours and wage standards, and to this later group's diplomatic corps - they remain at high risk to be in the cross-hairs of illegality and reputation-suicide," Batra said.