Diplomat arrest row: India removes security barriers around US embassy

The tensions between New Delhi and Washington over diplomat Devyani Khobragade`s arrest in New York escalated.

Updated: Dec 18, 2013, 09:29 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The tensions between New Delhi and Washington over diplomat Devyani Khobragade`s arrest in New York escalated on Tuesday when India asked the US diplomats posted in the country to turn in their ID cards.

"Government has asked the US to return the ID cards given to their consular officers posted in India," government sources told a news agency.

It is understood that the government intends to review the immunity and benefits enjoyed by US diplomats.

India has also withdrawn all airport passes for US diplomats -both from Embassy and Consulates. In an unprecedented reaction, India has sought details including salaries paid to all
Indian staff employed at the US consulates, including by Consulate officers and families, such as domestic help.

The government has stopped all import clearances for the US embassy, including liquor. All barricades from outside the US embassy on Nyaya Marg here were also removed.

The government has also sought visa and other details of all teachers at US schools, and pay and bank accounts of those of Indians in these schools.
Addressing a press conference, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid termed the arrest of Indian diplomat in a `barbaric` way as unacceptable.

"We feel an extreme level of distress. This is completely unacceptable. Whatever needs to be is being done. We have put in motion of what we believe will address the issue."

"Have communicated our dissent to the US. I can assure you that we will take this very seriously," Khurshid told reporters.

Taking a tough stand, senior leaders have refused to meet a visiting US Congress delegation.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon have refused to meet a visiting US congressional delegation to show India`s displeasure over the treatment meted out to Devyani Khobragade, India`s deputy consul general in New York. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, however, met the delegation and sent them strong signals to convey India`s discontent.

The US delegation comprised Congressmen George Holding (Republican - North Carolina), Pete Olson (Republican - Texas) David Schweikert (Republican - Arizona), Robert Woodall (Republican - Georgia), Madeleine Bordallo (Democrat - Guam).

According to media reports, Khobragade, who was arrested in New York last week over alleged visa fraud and exploiting her housekeeper and babysitter, was not only handcuffed, but was later strip-searched in custody and made to stand with common criminals, drug addicts and sex workers by the New York Police.

Khobragade, who was arrested on the street while she was dropping her daughter to school was later released on a USD 250,000 bail. She is due back in court in January.