India demands withdrawal of case against D. Khobragade
India on Thursday said the case against its diplomat Devyani Khobragade, arrested in New York on charges of visa fraud, should not be pursued and withdrawn by the U.S. authorities.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said he had received a call from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday night but he was not available at that time.
Sources in New Delhi said not taking Mr. Kerry’s call was an indication of how upset New Delhi was with regard to the incident and that it had decided to settle the matter at the official level.
“I was not available when John Kerry called. We are trying to log a time for a call this evening. Mr. Kerry is in the Philippines and there is a huge time difference,” he said.
“I have sought details of what happened in the case of the diplomat,” he said, asserting that the matter should not be pursued and be withdrawn.
“Our relationship has a lot of investment, it is not an irreversible matter and we have to deal with it sensibly,” the Minister said.
A 1999-batch IFS officer, Ms. Khobragade was arrested on December 12 on visa fraud charges as she was dropping her daughter to school and released on a $250,000 bond only after pleading not guilty in court.
The ill-treatment of the its diplomat evoked a sharp reaction from India which initiated a slew of steps to downgrade the privileges enjoyed by the U.S. diplomats and their families including withdrawing airport passes and stopping import clearances.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Wednesday described as “deplorable” the way the diplomat was treated in the U.S.
She has now been transferred to the Indian Mission to the UN to give her fuller diplomatic immunity.
In his first statement in Parliament on the issue, Mr. Khurshid had on Wednesday said that she was the victim of a “conspiracy” and that some people had “trapped” Ms. Khobragade, who was put through both strip and cavity searches, procedures normally used for criminals.
He had also said that India will intervene “effectively and specifically” to ensure the return and restoration of dignity of its Deputy Consul General as it a matter of the country’s prestige and honour.
There is a strong demand that Ms. Khobragade should be released unconditionally and all the charges against her should be dropped.