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Devyani Khobragade arrest: India acts tough on U.S. diplomats

New Delhi, Dec.17 (ANI): India on Tuesday took a series of tough measures against American diplomats based at the embasssy in Delhi and in consulates all over the country to let Washington know that it is extremely upset over the treatment meted to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York.

Strongly protesting against Khobragade’s arrest, strip search and her being lodged as a common criminal with drug addicts in a New York prison on alleged charges of committing visa fraud, before being released on bail, the Indian Government,according to a television channel report, is considering the following measures:

(1)Asked all U.S. consulated personnel and their families to surrender their identity cards.

(2)A ban on import clearances for the American Embassy and Consulates.

(3)Withdrawal of airport passes and clearances for American diplomats based in India.

(4)Asking for salary details of Indian staff employed with the U.S. Embassy and consulates.

(5)Asked Delhi Police to remove all security barricades outside the U.S. Embassy and consulates and

(6)Visa details and salaries of teachers employed with the American School in Delhi and in consulate-run schools in other cities.

Simultaneously, political leaders cut across party lines to refuse to meet a U.S. Congress delegation till the diplomatic row is resolved.

Senior leaders like Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi have refused to meet the U.S. Congress delegation.

National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon cancelled meetings in Delhi with the delegation. Menon has described Khobragade’s treatment as “despicable and barbaric.”

Khobragade is India’s Deputy Consul General in New York.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid met Khobragade’s father, Uttam Khobragade, at his office here, and said: “It is completely unacceptable… We have put in motion what we believe will be an effective way to address this issue and protect her dignity… Everything that can be done, will be done.”

Khurshid, however, met the delegation, and is reported to have conveyed New Delhi’s displeasure over the arrest of Khobargade.

“We have expressed our sense of disquiet. We have communicated the essence we feel both in diplomatic terms but also feel distress due to the human element. Our sense has been adequately communicated to our friends in the U.S.,” Khurshid said today.

Uttam Khobragade, a former IAS officer, said: “My daughter is brave, but I am worried. There is more than what meets the eye. She has not done anything wrong.”

Devyani Khobragade, 39, was arrested on Thursday on the street while she was dropping her daughter to school and was handcuffed in public.

She was later released on a USD 250,000 bail. She has been accused of lying on the visa application for an Indian national who worked at her home from November 2012 to June 2013 for less than four dollars an hour.

A day later, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh had summoned American Ambassador Nancy Powell, and lodged a strong protest over what India has described as “unacceptable treatment” meted out to its senior consular officer.

Noel Clay, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said standard procedures had been followed during Khobragade’s arrest.

“Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Indian Deputy Consul General enjoys immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts only with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions,” Clay added.

India has argued that the US has violated Article 41 of the Vienna Convention which states that a diplomat will only be arrested for a grave crime, and even if arrested, all courtesies will be extended to the diplomat. (ANI with inputs)