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Devyani Khobragade row: As it happened on Saturday

By Biplob Ghosal | Last Updated: Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 00:18

Zee Media Bureau/Biplob Ghosal and Hemant Abhishek

9:15 pm: BJP rescinds invitation to US consulate to attend
Modi`s rally

BJP has rescinded invitation to US consulate to attend
Modi`s rally in the wake of Devyani Khobragade case.

Angry with the treatment meted out to diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the USA, former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha demanded thorough search of officials in the American Embassy in New Delhi and take necessary actions as per law.

"There should be a thorough search of the so-called diplomats in the American Embassy as many officials who should not get diplomatic status have diplomatic IDs, and action should be taken against them as per law," Sinha told.

8:00 pm: `Sangeeta Richard was happy with her job`

Sangeeta Richard, the housekeeper and nanny of India`s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, had told her only daughter that she was very happy with her job and was being paid well.

Jennifer, the 20-year-old daughter of Sangeeta, 42, had shared the information a few months ago with one of her college mates living near her house in Sultanpur Colony in South Delhi.

"Jennifer had informed me that her mother was being paid a good salary and was very happy with the family she was working with. She was not treated like a domestic maid," Shalini, the college friend of Jennifer told.

7:50 pm: India`s reaction to diplomat`s arrest `misplaced` and `deplorable`, says US media

A majority of US media has dubbed India`s reaction to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade`s arrest as "misplaced" and "deplorable".

Calling it "India`s Misplaced Outrage" the influential New York Times said: "India`s overwrought reaction to the arrest" of Devyani Khobragade, its deputy consul general in New York, "is unworthy of a democratic government".

"Despite the way many Indians seem to view the case, it is not a challenge to India`s honour. It is a charge against one diplomat accused of submitting false documents to evade the law," it said.

6:30 pm: `India-US in talks to resolve standoff`

Earlier today External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid maintained his conciliatory tone when he termed the Indo-US relationship "extremely exceptionally valuable", a sentiment reciprocated by the US State Department which said, "it is important to preserve and protect our partnership".

Khurshid told reporters in New Delhi, "We are in a conversation at different levels. Let the conversation go to its logical conclusion."

5:45 pm: `Sangeeta Richards could be a CIA agent`

Uttam Khobragade, father of Devyani Khobragade, alleged his daughter`s former maid Sangeeta Richards could be a "CIA agent". He said her daughter had been made a "scapegoat" and the possibility of a conspiracy behind the visa fraud allegations against her could not be ruled out.

Stating that the family would get justice only after the "false charges" against Devyani were dropped, he said Sangeeta Richards could be a "CIA agent".

3:30 pm: Protests in Delhi

Several rights groups representing domestic workers in the US have protested outside the Indian Consulate here demanding "justice" for senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade`s maid, saying officials cannot use diplomatic immunity to "escape" accountability for their actions.

The National Domestic Workers Alliance led the an hour-long demonstrations yesterday, with participation from other groups like Safe Horizon, the victim assistance agency representing Khobragade`s maid Sangeeta Richard, Damayan Migrant Workers Association and National Guestworker Alliance.

2:35 pm: Activists protest in front of US Consulate

About 50 activists of Democratic Youth Federation of India, a left wing youth outfit, staged a demonstration in front of the US Consulate here today to protest the arrest of diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York.

They raised slogans and held placards against the US government, condemning her arrest, police said.

"We condemn the arrest of Indian diplomat in the US. We demand that the Indian government send back US diplomats posted here," one of the activists said.

2:10 pm: India, US wouldn’t want partnership to be hurt: Khurshid

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Saturday that India and the US are in talks to resolve the stand-off over the alleged mistreatment of Indian dipomat Devyani Khobragade and both sides would not want their close ties to be hurt by this "one incident".

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event at the industry chamber FICCI, Khurshid said that the ongoing "conversation" between India and the US to resolve the row over the treatment meted out to India`s deputy consul general in New York should be allowed to come to its "logical conclusion".

"Let the conversation go to its logical conclusion… my conversation (with the US) is not completed,` Khurshid said to questions on what India and US are doing to resolve the stand-off, especially after the US said it would not dilute its legal stand on Khobragade, who has been charged with visa fraud and underpaying her nanny.

He said India and the US have close ties that have been built up over many years and both sides would not want the partnership to be spoilt over "one incident".

1:00 pm:`Khobragade case not to impact India-US commercial ties`

The ongoing spat between India and US over the diplomat Devyani Khobragade issue would not impact commercial ties between the two countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said on Saturday.

"India was outraged over the treatment given to Devyani but our relationship with the US is far too important. It is a strategic partnership between the two largest democracies of the world. Strategic in every sense, so we are not disengaging. This relationship will go stronger," Sharma told here.

11:45 am: US media deplores India`s `misplaced rage`

Largely taking the moral high ground in this bilateral diplomatic row, the US media has dubbed India`s reaction to its diplomat`s arrest as "overwrought" and "misplaced", saying Devyani Khobragade was on the wrong side of the law, though at least one commentator has said that US owes India an apology.

Calling it "India`s Misplaced Outrage" a leading newspaper said: "India`s overwrought reaction to the arrest" of Devyani Khobragade, its deputy consul general in New York, "is unworthy of a democratic government.

Also Read: US media says India’s reaction misplaced

10:15 am: Still no apology or dropping of charges

A week into their diplomatic spat, the US responded with a softened tone to India`s reconciliatory stress on preserving their "valuable" ties, but made no move to drop the charges against an Indian diplomat or offer an apology.

President Barack Obama left for Hawaii for his annual holiday without referencing the spat with India at his hour-long yearend press conference, an indication perhaps that the issue was not on his table and was not deemed serious enough to merit a comment from the White House.

9:00 am: Processing request to accredit Devyani to Permanent Mission: UN

The UN on Saturday said it has received official notification from India to register diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested on visa fraud charges, as a member of the country`s Permanent Mission and the request will be processed according to "standard procedures".

"The United Nations has received notification to register Devyani Khobragade as a member of the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations. The United Nations is processing this request per its standard procedures," Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq told a news agency.

8:15 am: Need to preserve partnership with India: US

Trying to bring the temperatures down in their diplomatic spat, the US Friday welcomed India`s reconciliatory stress on the importance of preserving their "valuable" ties as they try to work out a solution.

The US and India were engaged in conversations at various levels to find a way forward, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters saying it agreed with the Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid`s views on how important and valuable the relationship is.

"Those are our views as well," she said when asked about Khurshid`s comments on the importance of preserving the "valuable relation in which enormous investments have been made".

However, on the issue of dropping the charges of visa fraud against Devyani Khobragade, India`s deputy consul general in New York, Psaki said "it`s a legal case" and the State Department had "no jurisdiction" in the legal process.

On the issue of diplomatic immunity for Khobragade in her new job at India`s Permanent Mission at the UN in New York, she said the concept of "retroactive" immunity does not work as it applies only to a diplomat`s current status.

7:00 am: UN posting gives Devyani temporary immunity: US

The transfer of diplomat Devyani Khobragade to India`s Permanent Mission at the United Nations would grant her full-diplomatic immunity temporarily and protect her from any arrest in the US, but the visa fraud case against her would go uninterrupted, US official said.

"For anyone, it would apply for the length of time that they have that diplomatic status. But it doesn`t retroactively wipe out past discretions," the State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki said yesterday.

"Receiving diplomatic immunity does not nullify any previously existing criminal charges. Those remain on the books. Nor does obtaining diplomatic immunity protect the diplomat from prosecution indefinitely. It relates to the status of a diplomat`s current status for the length of the time of that status," Psaki said.

Diplomatic immunity means, among other things, that a foreign diplomat is not subject to criminal jurisdiction in the United States for the time they are a diplomat, for the time they have that immunity, she said.

6:00 am: John Kerry plans to call Khurshid

Secretary of State John Kerry plans to call his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid soon as the ties between two sides are too important to be derailed by an "isolated incident" of the arrest of a diplomat, the US State Department said on Friday.

The US has not received any request from India on the transfer of 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

This is expected to provide Khobragade with the necessary diplomatic immunity even as the court cases would continue in New York.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade was arrested on December 12 on visa fraud charges as she was dropping her daughter to school and released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.

First Published: Saturday, December 21, 2013 - 08:23
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