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Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade Arrest Enrages New Delhi

Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade Arrest Enrages New Delhi

12/18/2013

Devyani Khobragade, the Indian deputy consul general, faces accusations of visa fraud and underpaying her children’s nanny. Khobragade’s arrest on Thursday sparked the ire of New Delhi, where officials believe her treatment was unbefitting a diplomat.

Indian Diplomat Arrested For Visa Fraud

The US Marshall Service arrested Khobragade outside of her daughter’s school in Manhattan on the morning of Dec. 18. At the jail, Khobragade was subjected to a strip search, which is standard procedure when one is accused of a felony. “Devyani Khobragade was subject to the same search procedures as other USMS arrestees,” said the US Marshals Service, who say there was no instruction to give Khobragade special treatment.

"I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, in a holdup with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity," Khobragade wrote in an email.

Among those who found the treatment Khobragade claims she received offensive is her father, Ttam Khobragade. He said that she “[had] not done anything to be treated like that. What was done was absolutely atrocious.”

New Delhi Enraged Over Devyani Khobragade Arrest

Worse than the indignation of Khobragade's family members, is the fury aimed at the United States that has become pervasive in New Delhi. As a result of Khobragade’s arrest, the government has taken a number of privelages away from U.S. diplomats in the city. Security barriers have been removed from the embassy, ID cards are being confiscated, all import clearances have been suspended and same-sex companions of diplomats will face penalties.

“Media has reported that we have issued visas to a number of U.S. diplomats’ companions. Companions means that they are of the same sex,” said senior leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party Yashwant Sinha. “It is completely illegal in our country, just as paying less wages was illegal in the U.S.”

Khobragade Paid Nanny Pittance

Khobragade was reportedly paying her children’s nanny $3 an hour, far below the minimum wage in the U.S. When Khobragade applied for a visa for the homeworker, she claimed on the documents that she would be paying her $4,500 per month, which allegedly didn’t turn out to be the case. Khobragade has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will fight them on the grounds of diplomatic immunity.

“We understand that this is a very sensitive issue for many in India,” U.S. assistant secretary of state Nisha Desai Biswal told the Times of India on Tuesday. She added that Khobragade’s arrest was “an isolated episode that is not indicative of the close and mutually respectful partnership” between the U.S. and India.

– Chelsea Regan

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Read more: Devyani Khobragade, Diplomacy, India, Courts, Politics

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