Washington: A day before Ambassador Meera Shankar was to return home after completing her tenure in the US in the summer of 2011, her maid, without informing anyone, left her official residence on the outskirts of the city never to return.
The highly-secretive Indian Embassy here hushed up the matter from the media and is believed to have registered a formal complaint with police and the State Department, in addition to cancelling the maid`s official passport.
The woman domestic worker, who served the Ambassador quite well during her tenure of more than two years in Washington, is still untraceable and believed to be living illegally in the US.
And she is not the only Indian maid - officially called "India-Based Domestic Assistant" - to have fled from the homes of senior Indian diplomats in the past few years.
Sources familiar with such incidents said, strictly on condition of anonymity, that the number of such maids or India-Based Domestic Assistants (IBDAs) from the Indian Embassy in Washington - one of the largest Indian diplomatic missions - could be at least a dozen in the past decade.
Not only maids, but security guards brought from India too are believed to have fled, mostly towards the end of their tenure.
The Indian Embassy did not respond to questions on the number of IBDAs currently with staff at its diplomatic posts in the US, including the embassy in Washington and consulates in New York, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago.
In 2012, the US issued a total of 54 A-3 visas, which are the ones for IBDAs or maids, to Indian diplomats. In all, as many as 1,141 A-3 visas were issued last year, while 749 applications were rejected.
A-3 visas are for the domestic help of diplomats and foreign officials who are in the US on A-1 and A-2 visas.
According to official figures made available by the State Department, the US issued A-3 visas for 32 Indian domestic workers in 2011, 50 in 2010, 60 in 2009, 38 in 2008, 35 in 2007, 40 in 2006, 60 in 2005,?55 in 2004 and 47 in 2003.
Over the past 10 years, the US issued more than 470 A-3 visas to Indian domestic workers.