Withdraw US Official from Embassy: India
By Devirupa Mitra | Published: 11th January 2014 08:12 AM |
India on Friday asked the US to withdraw a consular official holding a similar rank to that of Devyani Khobragade, who was allegedly involved in helping the family of maid Sangeeta Richard get special visas and played a role in the evacuation of the Indian diplomat’s family on December 10 on T-visas given to families of trafficking victims.
India asked for the removal of the officer in the same tone the US State department withdrew Khobragade on January 9. There was only a small difference - there was apparently no time limit put on when the Indian officer had to leave the US. Official sources however made it clear that it was not an “expulsion”, but only the US embassy was asked to “withdraw” its diplomat.
Following the arrest of Khobragade on December 12, her passport was withheld, leaving her stuck for fear of jumping bail. India focused on getting a G-1 visa so she could return to India. Now, Khobragade is flying home on a new passport with full diplomatic immunity. But, with the case continuing, it was made clear legal procedures would resume if she returned to the US later when she did not possess full immunity. That means Khobragade can travel to the US in an official capacity on an official passport, but will be vulnerable if she went on an ordinary passport.
It was also stressed at no point was there a possibility of Khobragade or the Government of India accepting a plea bargain which included an acceptance of guilt in return for a smaller penalty, as had been suggested by Preet Bharara’s office.
Since the arrest of Khobragade, India downgraded the immunity status of US consular officers, removed traffic barriers outside US embassy and withdrew privileges like airport passes.