Stop Special Facilities to American Diplomats - The New Indian Express

Stop Special Facilities to American Diplomats

Published: 18th December 2013 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 18th December 2013 12:41 AM

As more and more shocking details about the treatment meted to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade  in US are coming out, it is clear that the US authorities not only acted in flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention but deliberately humiliated her and the country she represented. She was handcuffed in full public view, ignoring her claims of diplomatic impunity, strip-searched in custody and made to stand with common criminals, drug addicts and sex workers by the New York Police. India had immediately lodged a strong protest by summoning US envoy Nancy Powell but instead of showing a sense of contriteness, the Obama administration has sought to justify the action. The case touches on a string of issues that strike deeply in India, where the fear of public humiliation resonates strongly.

Such highhandedness is not only unacceptable but needs to be met with retaliatory response. India’s political class has done well to unite against this US outrage. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, national security adviser Shivshankar Menon as well as senior political leaders, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, have refused to meet a delegation of US Congressmen as a mark of protest. The government has withdrawn all airport passes for US diplomats and stopped all import clearances for the US embassy. Traffic barricades near the US embassy in Delhi have been removed. The government has also sought key information such as salaries paid to Indian staff employed at the consulates.

Important as they are, these symbolic gestures are not enough. New Delhi should follow it up by immediately reviewing the immunity and benefits enjoyed by US diplomats in India. The government should withdraw all special facilities given to American diplomats and direct Indian law enforcement agencies to act if and when they are found violating Indian laws. The government should also launch a thorough investigation into the working of the functioning institutions in India.

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