Diplomat arrest: India has always shown spine in national interest, says Sujatha Singh

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh on Friday said India has always followed its own path and shown spine on all major issues since gaining independence in 1947.

New Delhi: Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh on Friday said India has always followed its own path and shown spine on all major issues since gaining independence in 1947.

Contritely rejecting a media observation that New Delhi has failed to flex its muscles on major issues, Singh said, "India has shown spine ever since it got independence in 1947. We have shown spine in everything we have done, whether in forging our own foreign policy, in taking our own decisions, or it is about Non Alignment or it is about Bangladesh. We have always followed our own path. We have followed it determined by our national interest and by how we see the world. And we continue to do so."

Commenting specifically on the Devyani Khobragade case, Singh said, "It is completely a question about the diplomatic courtesies being extended to an Indian diplomat. You do not treat an Indian diplomat under these circumstances whether it is in the US or anywhere else in the world. We expect our diplomat to be given exactly the same courtesies that we extend to American diplomats and indeed to diplomats from all over the world. That is the numb of the matter."

"I think there is no doubt whatsoever that things are better on ground than they are perceived.

I think there is a perception, and there is a reality. Perception is something that we have to seek to overcome in terms of making sure that it correlates with reality. This is where the Ministry of External Affairs plays an important role in making sure that the message goes across," she added.

It said that US Government should have focused on Sangeetha Richards and her family and not on Khobragade and her family.

Referring to the evacuation of Richards`s family members from India to the United States, the MEA was earlier quoted, as saying that no foreign government had a right to evacuate Indian citizens while cases were pending against them.

Earlier, Manhattan prosecutor Preet Bharara vowed to hold those breaking the law accountable "no matter how powerful, rich or connected they are."

Bharara claimed there has been "misinformation and factual inaccuracy" in the reporting on the Khobragade case which is "creating an inflammatory atmosphere" between the United States and India.

"There has been much misinformation and factual inaccuracy in the reporting on the charges against Devyani Khobragade. It is important to correct these inaccuracies because they are misleading people and creating an inflammatory atmosphere on an unfounded basis," he said.

Accepting that he has a limited role as a prosecutor in the visa fraud case involving Khobragade, Bharara said he had constraints in explaining the whole case as he would like, but "nevertheless would make sure that the public record is clearer than it has been thus far."

Bharara continues to maintain that Khobragade evaded US laws designed to protect the domestic employees of diplomats and consular officers from exploitation.

"This Office`s sole motivation in this case, as in all cases, is to uphold the rule of law, protect victims, and hold accountable anyone who breaks the law, no matter what their societal status and no matter how powerful, rich or connected they are," he said.

He further said that legal attempts had begun in India against the victim, who had worked as a domestic help for Khobragade, and attempts were being made to "silence" her.

He said the domestic help`s family was brought to the United States to ensure the safety of victims, witnesses and their families, while cases are pending.

He said that she was charged based on conduct as is alleged in the court complaint, which "shows she clearly tried to evade US law designed to protect from exploitation the domestic employees of diplomats and consular officers."

A 1999 batch IFS officer, Khobragade, India`s Deputy Consul General 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).

Khobragade was taken into custody as she was dropping her daughter to school before being released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.

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