Devyani Khobragade case: As it happened on Wednesday...

By Kamna Arora | Last Updated: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 23:09

Zee Media Bureau/Kamna Arora & Deepak Nagpal

8:40 pm: We must learn from India, says Pak daily

India`s angry response to the arrest and humiliation of a woman Indian diplomat in the US should be a lesson for Pakistan, a Pakistani newspaper said today.

"Pakistanis are watching with envy as India is reacting to the treatment meted out to its deputy consul-general Devyani Khobragade by Washington," said an article in The News International.

8:30 pm: Indian reprisal measures to take effect tomorrow

India`s retaliatory action against the treatment meted out to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade by American authorities will start having effect from tomorrow, the deadline set for surrendering airport passes by all US consular diplomats and their families.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said US Consular diplomats and their families have been asked to surrender airports passes by tomorrow.

He said the US has been told to provide a list of all Indian nationals working with its Consulates, including domestic servants, by December 23. The government has also sought copies of their contracts, bank accounts, salaries and PAN numbers.

"We have written to all US Consulates in the country asking that their Consular identity cards may be withdrawn for review no later than December 23," Khurshid said.

8:15 pm: Was US govt aware of whereabouts of Khobragade`s maid?

Even though the US government feigned ignorance, it may have been aware about the whereabouts of Sangeeta Richard, the maid of Indian Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade who is at the centre of a diplomatic row.

Indicative of this is that Sangeeta`s father-in-law is believed to be working in the US Embassy here.

Sources said the mother-in-law of the maid was also known to the American government as she had worked with a senior diplomat of the US Embassy here.

Besides these, Sangeeta`s husband Philip, a driver with Mozambique Embassy here, was given visa to travel to the US easily and quickly.

Indian government wonders whether all the requirements for grant of visa to him were fulfilled, particularly those related to adequate salary and financial deposits in his bank account. - PTI

8:00 pm: Murli Manohar Joshi hits out at US

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi today derided the US over the ill-treatment of Devyani Khobragade, saying insulting the Indian passport was akin to insulting the national flag.

7:45 pm: Treatment meted out to diplomat unwarranted, says IFS Association

The Association of Indian Foreign Services today termed as "unwarranted, excessive and exceptionable" the arrest and shameful treatment meted out by US authorities to one of its members, Devyani Khobragade, Deputy Consul General in New York, and demanded dropping of all cases against her unconditionally.

7:30 pm: Action against Indian diplomat outrageous, says Left

Terming the treatment meted out to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade as "outrageous", Left parties today asked India to take reciprocal measures and get an assurance from the US that it would adhere to the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

"The arrest and the treatment meted out to Khobragade by the American authorities was outrageous. It indicates how the US administration views India and its diplomats," a CPI(M) Politburo said in a statement.

7:10 pm: US committed visa fraud: India

India today said its Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade was trapped in a "conspiracy" and accused US of a fraud by granting a visa to the family of her absconding maid.

"She is innocent... It is not the illegality that she (Khobragade) is accused of, but the illegality she refused to oblige," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told Parliament.

Khurshid further said Americans facilitated a visa fraud even after being told by India that there was a risk of illegal immigration by Sangeeta and her family.

6:15 pm: Maid’s family flew to NY on Dec 10

Devyani Khobragade’s absconding maid Sangeeta Richard`s family flew to New York on December 10, just two days before the diplomat`s arrest, government sources said.

Also, India was in touch with the US since June after the official passport of the maid was cancelled and subsequently told about the anti-injunction suit order by an Indian court, they added.

5:40 pm: India freezes diplomatic perks for US consulates

India announced retaliatory measures against the United States on Wednesday, including revising work conditions of Indians employed in US consulates and a freeze on duty-free alcohol, in an escalating row over the arrest of Devyani Khobragade. - Reuters

5:00 pm: ‘India fully committed to Vienna Conventions`

India today said it is fully committed to implementing the Vienna Conventions and would also ask for their full implementation by the US.

"We are committed to implementing the Vienna Conventions, will implement them fully and ask them to be implemented fully," Syed Akbaruddin told a television channel. - IANS

4:05 pm: India shifts Devyani to UN mission

In a measure that could stump the United States, India on Wednesday transferred Devyani Khobragade to the Indian permanent mission at UN in New York. The move would ensure full diplomatic immunity for the Indian official, who is at the centre of a snowballing diplomatic row between Indian and the US.
3:00 pm: More needs to be done, says Devyani`s father

Devyani`s father Uttam Khobragade, a retired senior bureaucrat, said the steps taken by the Indian government in the wake of US action against his daughter were in the right direction but much more needs to be done.

"We can say steps are enough when there is a response," Uttam Khobragade told a news channel.

2:37 pm: Govt not serious, says Mayawati

BSP leader Mayawati has accused the government of not being serious on the issue of a scheduled caste woman`s suffering. The government has not given straight answers in this regard, added Mayawati.

2:27 pm: Protest outside US embassy

Protests break out outside US embassy in New Delhi over ill treatment meted out to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.

2:04 pm: Preneet Kaur`s reaction

Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur told reporters that the government has done everything it could.

1:35 pm: PM on Devyani Khobragade`s case

Treatment meted out to the Indian Deputy Consul General by the US is deplorable, says Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Also Read: US treatment of Indian diplomat ‘deplorable’: PM

1:16 pm: Demand in LS for adopting resolution

A demand has been made in the Lok Sabha for adopting resolution condemning US action against Indian Deputy Consul General.

12:30 pm: India not overreacting, says Khurshid

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid asserted that the government is determined and "will intervene effectively and specifically to ensure that dignity of the diplomat is preserved."

Terming the response received from the US Congressional delegate as positive, Khurshid said India is not overreacting by taking a slew of measures against the US.

Calling it a conspiracy in which Devyani was virtually trapped into, Khurshid in Rajya Sabha said the diplomat is "innocent" and the US action was unwarranted.

Khurshid said the treatment meted out to Khobragade had "not happened out of blue" and there is a "history" behind it.

It was in June and July this year that Khobragade detected disappearance of her servant.

Khurshid said efforts were made to find the servant but there was no cooperation from the US authorities.

He said the authorities here reached out to the husband of the missing servant but he too was unwilling to cooperate.

He made suo motu statements in both the Houses after members expressed outrage with demands that a resolution be passed to condemn the US action.

Khurshid further promised to bring back Devyani and restore her dignity, asserting it is his responsibility.

Also Read: Devyani Khobragade will be brought back with dignity: Khurshid
12:22 pm: Omar questions removal of US embassy security barriers

Welcoming withdrawal of privileges to the US embassy officials in New Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has, however, cautioned this should not lead to compromising the security of the US embassy in New Delhi.

Reacting to India`s response to the inhuman treatment meted out by the US to an Indian diplomat, Omar Abdullah said on his micro blogging Twitter site, "By all means withdraw all the special privileges bestowed on the US embassy in Delhi. Security has to be above political/diplomatic scraps."

"I`m all for reciprocity but removal of US embassy security barriers is taking things too far. These barriers weren`t a privilege, were they?"

Also Read: Indian diplomat’s arrest: Omar questions removal of US embassy security barriers

12:04 pm: This is routine for America, says JD(U)

Janata Dal United leader and Rajya Sabha MP Shivanand Tiwari said India`s former president Abdul Kalam and MP George Fernandes were also mistreated by the US in the past. "This is routine for America...This is a violation of Vienna Convention, but then when has US ever followed conventions?," asked Tiwari.

"America should apologise to the country," added Tiwari.

11:49 am: Who gave US right to handcuff Devyani? asks Sinha

Expressing anger over the arrest and "barbaric" treatment of an Indian diplomat in New York, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha asked: "Has the US held Vienna Convention in this? Who gave them right to handcuff Devyani, treat her in this manner?"

He further accused the US of crossing all civilisation norms. India has been insulted in manner in which Devyani has been treated, said Sinha, adding there is a need to take more steps against US diplomats in India.

They treated her like a terrorist, said an irate Sinha.

11:44 am: US insulted Indians on many occasions, says SP

"This incident has taken place only because in the past we haven`t put our view forward properly. When it comes to the US, India seems to suffer an inferiority complex and it is very sad," Samajwadi Party national general secretary Ramgopal Yadav said.

The US should apologise for its conduct and the government should not agree to anything less, he said. "If this doesn`t happen then we should extend the same treatment to their diplomats," Yadav said.

Also Read: Outrage in Rajya Sabha over Indian diplomat`s arrest

11:41 am: `US should stop pretending to be self-appointed Lokpal of world`

Hitting out at the US, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O`Brien in the Rajya Sabha said that Washington should stop pretending to be the self-appointed Lokpal of the world. He further demanded that all the privileges given to US diplomats by India should be codified and presented in Parliament to assess what "we give to the US, and what we get in return."

We live in a global village, but we don`t need a village headman, he added.

11:35 am: Sitaram Yechury on Devyani`s arrest

CPI-M member Sitaram Yechury welcomed the government measures to take action against the US, but added that India has not protested at the right moment.

He added: "You have bent backwards to create situations as per their demands. Please understand the depth of how much we have bent backwards to them. Please accept that this incident shows the universal values of hypocrisy that the US follows".

11:32 am: Mayawati says Dalit community upset with Devyani`s arrest

In the Rajya Sabha, BSP supremo Mayawati stirred a controversy by saying the Centre reacted late as Devyani is a Dalit.

"I know I should not bring caste into this but the overall conduct with this girl was inappropriate. The central government reacted late because she was a Dalit. Had she been from a different higher caste, they would have acted promptly," Mayawati said.

Mayawati`s statement was followed by outbursts in the Rajya Sabha. "Why is the Congress party making noise in Parliament? Let`s admit she is a Scheduled Caste," Mayawati added.

Hitting out at the US, Mayawati said, "The method of checking the Indian woman diplomat was the most inappropriate."

"When Americans come to India we treat them well, but they mistreat our people...Without further delay, the PM should directly take up the matter," added Mayawati.

11:29 am: Govt to make statement on Khobragade`s arrest tomorrow

Reacting to Jaitley`s speech, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said that the government had taken note of it. He added that government would make a statement on Khobragade`s arrest tomorrow.

11.20 am: We must launch strongest protest, says Arun Jaitley

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said India should take its bilateral relations seriously now. Underlining the need to introspect as far as the country`s foreign policy is concerned, Jaitley blamed the government`s past policy of `looking the other way` as the reason that allowed such incidents to keep happening.

During a debate on the incident in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said that the measures taken over the last 24 hours needed to be continued.

11:15 am: India committed to ensuring security of all diplomats, says Akbaruddin

There is no change in security situation as regards any diplomats in India, including US diplomats, says Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.

India is committed to ensuring security of all diplomats, insisted Akbaruddin, adding that the country will provide full safety and security as allowed by the Indian law.

11:00 am: Kirti Azad on Khobragade`s case

The US should realise that this subdued government can raise its voice when it comes to the honour of its citizen, says Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kirti Azad.

10:30 am: I broke down many times, says Devyani

In an e-mail to her IFS colleagues, Devyani Khobragade said she was not just handcuffed but subjected to strip-search, DNA swabbing and cavity searches.

Khobragade also wrote that she broke down a number of times but tried to maintain her dignity, a newspaper reported.

"While I was going through it, although I must admit that 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, I got the strength to regain composure and remain dignified thinking that I must represent all of my colleagues and my country with confidence and pride," she said.

Also Read: Devyani Khobragade recalls `indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping` in US jail

9:50 am: HRW defends US govt

The US Human Rights Watch has defended the US government, saying that the reports of strip-search raise important questions, but allegations on Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade remain.

"The common practice in the US of strip-searching people who the police take into custody raises important human rights questions about treating individuals with dignity and respecting their privacy. But other human rights issues at hand - the allegations that Khobragade took advantage of her domestic worker, remain," said Human Rights Watch in an article.

Taking on Devyani Khobragade, the article said: "Many commentators have leapt to Khobragade`s defence, saying she could not be expected to pay her nanny USD 4,500 per month, more than her Indian government salary. But no one has a right to a domestic worker. But if you cannot afford to pay your nanny, you shouldn`t hire one."

9:20 am: US agrees to review Khobragade`s detention procedure

Amid rising tensions over the arrest and "barbaric" treatment of an Indian diplomat in New York, the US stuck to its guns saying it acted "appropriately" and demanded restoration of security for its missions in India.

Even as it spoke of a "broad and deep friendship" and an "important relationship" with India, US officials on Tuesday expressed no regret, leave aside an "unconditional apology" demanded by India over the arrest and alleged strip search of Devyani Khobragade.

Reacting to a slew of retaliatory measures taken by India in response to the treatment of Khobragade, India`s deputy consul general in New York, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said "an isolated episode" should not "impact the bilateral relationship."

According to Indian officials, Khobragade, 39, was strip-searched, cavity-searched and swabbed for DNA after her arrest in New York on charges of visa fraud last Thursday, then confined with hardened drug criminals before being released on a USD 250,000 bail. India`s national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon has called the treatment "despicable and barbaric".

"We understand that this is a sensitive issue for many in India," Harf said.

"Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was extended."

Also Read: US agrees to review Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade`s detention procedure

First Published: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 12:48

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