Adopting a tough stand on Indian diplomat’s arrest, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday 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.
According to reports, all ministers have been asked to not meet the US delegation, comprising Republican and Democrat members, to protest the diplomat’s arrest.
The NSA is known to have described the treatment meted out to Khobragade as “despicable” and “barbaric”, a source told a news agency.
Media reports have suggested that Khobragade was “strip-searched” after her arrest in New York. The report has made a diplomatic row between India and the US uglier.
Notably, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon have already cancelled their meetings with the US MPs.
The US has, however, suggested it had merely followed “standard procedures”.
The US State Department sought to pass the buck to the justice department and the local police.
“The State Department’s Diplomatic Security followed standard procedures during the arrest,” spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters on Monday when asked why the US was not respecting basic courtesies to a diplomat as it expected others to respect its own diplomats.
“After her arrest, she was passed on to the US marshals for intake and processing. So for any additional questions on her treatment, obviously, this would be the US Marshals and not us. I would refer you there,” she said.
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.
India has termed the treatment meted out to the envoy as “absolutely unacceptable”. US Ambassador Nancy Powell was summoned to South Block by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh on December 13 and a strong protest lodged over the treatment.