Outraged India Slams US Over Insult of Diplomat in New York
By Devirupa Mitra | ENS | Published: 14th December 2013 10:41 AM |
With India describing the arrest and handcuffing of its diplomat for alleged visa fraud in the US as “shocking and appalling”, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh on Friday summoned Ambassador Nancy Powell over the “unacceptable treatment” and “public humiliation” of the Indian Foreign Service officer.
Devyani Khobragade (39), Deputy Consul General and 1999 batch IFS officer, was arrested on Thursday morning in New York, on allegations made by her former domestic assistant – who’s missing since June – that Devyani had not been paying her minimum wages and forced her to make false statements to obtain a visa.
But what has made the Ministry of External Affairs see red is the way she was picked up after dropping her two children at school, and then subsequently handcuffed in the court. She was later released on a bail bond of $2,50,000.
“Devyani Khobragade is a diplomat who is in pursuance of her duties and hence entitled to the courtesies due to her. She is also the young mother of two small children. We are shocked and appalled at the manner in which she has been humiliated by the US authorities,” said Syed Akbaruddin, MEA spokesperson. In the evening, Sujatha Singh summoned Nancy Powell to South Block for a dressing down for “unacceptable” treatment of the diplomat. Interestingly, the foreign secretary was on her first day at office after returning from the US.
The case against Devyani was announced by Preet Bharara, an Indian-American US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, well known for prosecuting Rajat Gupta in the insider trading case.
Devyani was charged with one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years and five years in prison, respectively.
She applied for visa for her maid Sangeeta Richard with a wage of $4,500 per month. The application enclosed a contract signed by both Khobragade and Sangeeta, which said Sangeeta would be paid the minimum wage which is an hourly salary of Rs 9.75.