Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade had full diplomatic immunity at the time of her arrest, as she has been accredited as ‘advisor’ to the permanent mission of India to UN, since August, sources have said.
This week has been full of new revelations, starting with the information that the US Embassy in India had been very much complicit in ‘conspiracy’ to get Khobragade’s maid Sangeeta Richard’s family out of the country. It was found that the tickets for Richard’s husband and two children were paid for by the US Embassy’s official travel agency, with exemption for tax given to diplomatic missions.
Thereafter, came an even bigger eye-opener. Khobragade’s lawyer claimed that the investigative officer in the case, Diplomatic Security Service’s special agent Mark Smith, had misread the DS-160 visa form submitted online by Khobragade, on behalf of Richard.
In his complaint, Agent Smith said the visa application stated that Richard had to be paid $4,500 per month. However, the figure was entered in the form under the monthly income for the employer.
This was a direct assault on the very basis of the case, as Preet Bharara had charged Khobragade of giving false information in the visa form and actually paying Richard much lower than the minimum wage.
According to official sources, the revelations about the visa form mistake and Khobragade’s prior accreditation to UN shows that US authorities had been “in a hurry and not done their homework in the case”.
Meanwhile, India is awaiting the end of the Christmas and New Year break to see if the US State Department will give the G-1 visa to Khobragade, after she was accredited as full delegate from the PMI by the UN this week.
As part of its negotiations, the MEA is pushing for dropping of all charges, as it believes that with the new information, the case will not hold water in any court. The case had led to much outrage in India after reports that Khobragade was handcuffed and strip-searched at the time of arrest.