Furious India hits back, strips US diplomats of privileges
A strong retaliation, India today initiated a slew of steps to strip US diplomats and their families of privileges including withdrawing all airport passes
New Delhi: In a strong retaliation, India today initiated a slew of steps to strip US diplomats and their families of privileges including withdrawing all airport passes and stopping import clearances for the US embassy, terming as “barbaric” the arrest and strip searching of India’s Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade.
The government has asked all US Consulate personnel and their families to turn in their ID cards immediately which will “now be downgraded on par with with what the US provides to our Consulates there”, sources said.
Key information such as salaries paid to all Indian staff employed at the consulates and by Consulate officers and families including as domestic helps has also been sought by the government apart from visa and other details of all teachers in US schools and pay and bank accounts of Indians in these schools.
Government has also stopped all import clearances including for liquor for the US embassy.
Also, the traffic barricades near the US embassy on Nyaya Marg here will be lifted except the picket.
39-year-old Khobragade, a 1999-batch IFS officer posted as Deputy Consul General in New York, was taken into custody last week on visa fraud charges as she was dropping her daughter to school before being released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.
Meanwhile, the US virtually justified the reported strip search by New York police of Khobragade, saying “standard procedures” have been followed during her arrest.
“Diplomatic Security, which is under the State Department purview, followed standard procedures during her arrest,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at a daily news conference in Washington.
She was asked about reports that the Indian diplomat was strip searched and confined with drug addicts after her detention apart from being subjected to DNA swabbing.
Reacting sharply, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said, “It is despicable and barbaric”.
The strong comments by the NSA came as Indian leaders, including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, refused to meet a US Congressional delegation as a mark of protest over the treatment meted out to the senior diplomat.
Yesterday, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Menon also had cancelled their meetings with the US delegation.
The delegation comprised Congressmen
0 George Holding (Republican – North Carolina)
0 Pete Olson (Republican – Texas)
0 David Schweikert (Republican – Arizona)
0 Robert Woodall (Republican – Georgia)
0 Madeleine Bordallo (Democrat – Guam).