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Kerry calls Menon, expresses regret over Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s arrest

Washington, Dec 19 (): US Secretary of State John Kerry called India’s National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon on Wednesday and expressed his regret over the arrest and strip search of Indian Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade in New York City.

Devyani Khobragade, a 1999 batch IFS officer and deputy consul general of India in New York, was arrested on December 12 by the State Department’s diplomatic security bureau and then handed over to the US Marshals Service (USMS) for supposedly underpaying her caretaker and committing visa fraud to get her into the United States.

Khobragade was handcuffed upon arrest and strip-searched before being released on bail, Indian media said. Reports say, she was handcuffed in public in front of her daughters’ school, subjected to strip and cavity searches, and imprisoned along with drug addicts and sex workers.

The arrest caused aggressive debate in India, with opinions stating Khobragade should be condemned for mistreating her domestic helper or unfairly treating her.

On Monday, Marie Harf, diplomatic security staff said they followed standard procedures during the arrest and then handed her over to the US Marshals.

Khobragade was released on $250,000 bail after pleading not guilty to the charges and surrendering her passport and now she faces a maximum of 15 years in jail if convicted on both counts.

The US attorney for the southern district of New York, Preet Bharara came out in defense of the action taken against the Indian Deputy Consul General and said that she was arrested on the basis of her conduct.

Preet Bharara, who had ordered the arrest of Khobragade, safeguarded his action, saying she tried to escape the US laws.

Bharara made clear that the Indian diplomat was not ill-treated and the body search in which Khobragade was made to strip was conducted by a female deputy marshal. The White House also said the incident was being looked into to make sure every procedure was followed.