Indian diplomat in US was strip-searched, kept in jail with drug addicts
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was subjected to a humiliating strip search and was kept in a cell with drug addicts after her arrest for alleged visa fraud in New York last week. She has refused to comment on this.
The manner in which Ms Khobragade was arrested has sparked a diplomatic row. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon had cancelled meetings in Delhi with a visiting US Congressional delegation yesterday to underscore India’s grave reservation.
After the official’s arrest on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh had summoned American ambassador in New Delhi, Nancy Powell, and lodged a strong protest over what India has described as “unacceptable treatment” meted out to its senior consular officer. (Read)
Ms Khobragade was arrested on the street while she was dropping her daughter to school and was handcuffed in public. She was later released on a $250,000 bail. She has been accused of lying on the visa application for an Indian national who worked at her home from November to June for less than four dollars an hour.
Responding to a questionnaire mailed out by NDTV, Noel Clay, a spokesperson for the US State Department, said standard procedures had been followed during Ms Khobragade’s arrest. “After her arrest, U.S. Marshals processed her for intake. For any additional questions on her treatment, we refer you to the U.S. Marshals,” Mr Clay wrote.
NDTV has contacted the US Marshals office and is awaiting a response.
At the heart of the diplomatic row is the legal definition of diplomatic immunity. Mr Clay told NDTV, “Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Indian Deputy Consul General enjoys immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts only with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions.”
But India has argued that the Article 41 of the Vienna Convention was violated; it states that a diplomat will only be arrested for a grave crime, and even if arrested, all courtesies will be extended to the diplomat.
Ms Khobragade, 39, who has two young daughters, is in charge of Political, Economic, Commercial and Women’s Affairs at the consulate.