Follow us:
 
Courtesy: Facebook
India Protests Diplomat's Arrest and Handcuffing in NY

Deploring the arrest of Deputy Consul General in New York yesterday, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh today summoned US Ambassador Nancy Powell to convey India's "shock" over "absolutely unacceptable" treatment meted out to the senior Indian diplomat.

Reacting strongly to Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade being arrested and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges yesterday, the Foreign Secretary summoned Powell to South Block to lodge strong protest and convey India's displeasure over the arrest of its diplomat.

According to sources, Singh told Powell that the treatment meted out to the senior diplomat was "totally unacceptable" and she was entitled to the courtesies under various multilateral conventions dealing with diplomatic fraternity posted in foreign countries.

In a major diplomatic embarrassment, Khobragade, 39, was taken into custody on a street in New York as she was dropping her daughter to school at 9 AM yesterday and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges before being released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.

"We are shocked and appalled at the manner in which she has been humiliated by the US authorities. We have taken it up forcefully with the US government through our embassy in Washington. We are also reiterating, in no uncertain terms, to US embassy here that this kind of treatment to one of our diplomats is absolutely unacceptable," Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Syed Akabaruddin said here.

He also said the ministry was working to resolve this matter at the earliest and if there were issues of legal nature they will be resolved separately, however, this sort of behaviour was "totally unacceptable".

"Nothing entails the humiliation of a young woman with two small children publicly. A person who has been a diplomat sent there to represent her country. We will take issue of legal nature separately but there is no justification or acceptability of what has happened to the young diplomat who had gone to drop her children in a school," he said.

This is the third case involving a senior official of the New York Indian Consulate in three years.

In June 2011, a former housekeeper had sued India's then Consul General in New York Prabhu Dayal accusing him of intimidating her into a year of forced labour.

In February 2012, Indian maid Shanti Gurung won a case against Neena Malhotra, who served as a Press and Culture Counselor at the New York Consulate from 2006-2009.

The spokesperson said while the ministry was in the process of resolving the issue, it did not mean that what has happened was not "substantive issue", asserting that it will be contested with "extreme seriousness".

"It does not absolve the US authorities of having humiliated and traumatised an Indian diplomat performing her duty," he further said.

While Khobragade is Deputy Consul General at the Consulate here, she was serving as its acting head at the time of her arrest.

She was taken into custody after the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, India-born Preet Bharara, announced charges of visa fraud against her.

Bharara alleged that Khobragade made false statements in a visa application for an Indian national employed as a babysitter and housekeeper at her home in New York.

While Khobragade is Deputy Consul General at the Consulate here, she was serving as its acting head at the time of her arrest.

She was charged with one count each of visa fraud and making false statements, which carry maximum prison sentences of 10 years and five years, respectively.

The Indian Embassy in Washington said in a statement that it had "immediately conveyed its strong concern" to the US government over the action against Khobragade.

"The US side have been urged to resolve the matter with due sensitivity, taking into account...The diplomatic status of the officer concerned," the Embassy said.

Khobragade, the mother of two young daughters and a Chevening scholar, was taken into custody by law enforcement officials and produced before US Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman of Manhattan federal court late in the afternoon for an arraignment hearing.

Wearing a purple sweater and dress, Khobragade looked pale and stressed during the hearing. The judge read Khobragade her rights and the charges against her.

She did not speak during the hearing except to say that she agrees with the terms and conditions of her bail. She was released on a USD 250,000 bond and submitted her diplomatic passport in court.

The next hearing was set for January 13. Khobragade told PTI she cannot talk to the media as the matter is "subjudice" but said she is doing fine. She was flanked by her attorney Daniel Arshack and her colleagues from the Consulate who escorted her from the court.

Khobragade joined the Consulate last year and was previously posted in Germany, Italy and Pakistan.

The arrest sent shock waves among the Indian diplomatic corps here, with some officers saying it was unprecedented and and inappropriate for a diplomat to be arrested.

The judge ordered Khobragade not to leave the US but said she could travel within the country only if she gives advance notice.

Her lawyer told the judge that his client is "not subject to prosecution" as she "enjoys immunity as a Consulate officer". Her lawyer will file claims of diplomatic immunity and relevant papers in court.

The Indian Embassy said it had been informed about Khobragade being taken into custody. It said the action was apparently taken on the basis of allegations made by her former India-based domestic assistant, Sangeeta Richard, who has been absconding since June.

The Delhi High Court issued an interim injunction in September to restrain Richard from instituting any actions against Khobragade outside India on the terms or conditions of her employment.

"The US Government had subsequently been requested to locate Richard and facilitate the service of an arrest warrant, issued by the Metropolitan Magistrate of the South District Court in New Delhi under Sections 387, 420 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code," the Embassy said.

Announcing the charges against Khobragade, high-profile US Attorney Bharara alleged that her housekeeper had been given less than a "fair wage".

"Foreign nationals brought to the US to serve as domestic workers are entitled to the same protections against exploitation as those afforded to US citizens," he said.

"The false statements and fraud alleged to have occurred here were designed to circumvent those protections so that a visa would issue for a domestic worker who was promised far less than a fair wage. This type of fraud on the US and exploitation of an individual will not be tolerated."

An 11-page criminal complaint unsealed in the Manhattan court alleged Khobragade made false statements about the salary and employment terms of her housekeeper from India. The complaint did not name Richard.

Though the prevailing minimum US hourly wage in the area is USD 9.75, the housekeeper was paid only about USD 3.31 an hour, the complaint said.

Diplomats and consular officers can get domestic workers on A-3 visas. They have to submit proof that the helper will receive a fair wage, sufficient to support himself financially and comparable to that offered in the same area in the US.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
Follow us on Twitter for all updates, like us on Facebook for important and fun stuff
Translate into:
© Copyright PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of any PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.


Post a Comment
Share your thoughts
You are not logged in, please log in or register
Must See
Daily Mail
Digression

19/D-249
Dec 14, 2013
11:13 PM

This lady and her father was named in Adarsha scam, some building project in Mumbai in the past. I do believe Americans are telling the truth and the lady should be sacked from the post. Indians, rich and poor alike, have a tendency to ill treat their maids in India. They feel that their salary should go up but for their maids , never. Educated Indians attitude towards the poor Indians is a big reason why poverty is so rampant in India. And still Indians claim they are very religious, and cultured. Just going to temples do not make honest people. 

george, london
18/D-104
Dec 14, 2013
01:22 PM

Bonita,

[[Is this any different from the plight of domestic help and unorganised labour in our country?]]

My statement was intended to cover our domestic workers in India as well, where such violations are even more widespread than in our missions abroad. Also, I don't disagree with the Vienna conventions, however lopsided at times it may appear. Diplomats do need certain immunities, and the conventions do just that.

Ganwaar, Ganwaarpur
17/D-97
Dec 14, 2013
12:56 PM

In 1984, a woman police officer was shot by someone from inside the Iran Embassy in London. - My #16

Sorry. That should have been Libyan Embassy not Iranian.

Bonita, Chennai
16/D-87
Dec 14, 2013
12:22 PM

Ganwaar (#15),

The points you make are emotionall valid, but some avoid reality.

Whatever the Vienna convention says,

Many people believe that the Vienna Convention gives diplomats a blanket licence to do what they want and puts them above the law. However, that's the way it is. New York (home to the UN HQ) loses miliions of dollars every year in unpaid traffic fines incurred by diplomats. In 1984, a woman police officer was shot by someone from inside the Iran Embassy in London. No further action was taken to investigate as the premises of an Embassy are inviolate under the same convention. People will always misuse privileges. It is for the sending State to prevent this.

this arrest has served to highlight the pitiable plight of maid servants (before Misogynist kills me, I mean male servants as well). Leave aside the fact that they're paid a pittance and made to work long hours,

Is this any different from the plight of domestic help and unorganised labour in our country?

often at a fraction of the pay that a citizen of the host country would earn for the same job,

If the pay is to be the same as that of the host country, why should someone import domestic help or other labour from India. As a matter of interest the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) a global union (and very powerful) which represents mainly seafarers has agreed to separate wage scales depending on the country of domicile of an individual. If Filipinos or Indians or Chinese seamen were to be paid the same wages as European seamen, what would be the incentive for a shipowner to employ them in preference to his countrymen?

we need to learn that we must do our own laundry.

Agreed.

And if we choose to have someone else do it, we must pay them fairly and more importantly, accord them due respect.

Agree even more.

Bonita, Chennai
15/D-73
Dec 14, 2013
10:47 AM

Whatever the Vienna convention says, this arrest has served to highlight the pitiable plight of maid servants (before Misogynist kills me, I mean male servants as well). Leave aside the fact that they're paid a pittance and made to work long hours, often at a fraction of the pay that a citizen of the host country would earn for the same job, we need to learn that we must do our own laundry. And if we choose to have someone else do it, we must pay them fairly and more importantly, accord them due respect.

Ganwaar, Ganwaarpur
Order by

Order by

Order by

ABOUT US | CONTACT US | SUBSCRIBE | ADVERTISING RATES | COPYRIGHT & DISCLAIMER | COMMENTS POLICY

OUTLOOK TOPICS:    a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   
Or just type in a few initial letters of a topic: