US Offers Apology After India Smells Plot - The New Indian Express

US Offers Apology After India Smells Plot

Published: 19th December 2013 07:36 AM

Last Updated: 19th December 2013 07:36 AM

Amidst outrage in Parliament over the treatment meted out to senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York on trumped-up charges of visa fraud, the Union government  on Wednesday asserted that it will intervene “effectively and specifically” to ensure her return to India and “restoration of her dignity”.

What was even more stunning, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told both houses of Parliament that there was a “conspiracy” in which Khobragade was virtually “trapped” by her absconding domestic help and other elements in the US who were trying to get her permanent American citizenship.

Asserting that the Deputy Consul was “innocent”, Khurshid told Parliament, “It is not illegality that she is accused of, but the illegality she refused to oblige” that brought about her arrest and humiliation. He also dramatically vowed not to return to Parliament until Khobragade  was brought back and her dignity was restored. Outside Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the development “deplorable”.

Narrating details of the case, Khurshid said between June and July, Khobragade detected the disappearance of her maid Sangeeta Richard and reported it. However, US authorities did not cooperate in attempts to find her. When the Indian authorities tried to reach out to Richard’s husband, he too refused to cooperate.

Khurshid said Khobragade received calls from a lawyer in the US who refused to identify himself, but offered to settle the matter that would result in grant of permanent citizenship to the domestic help and a huge compensation — this was the “conspiracy” that was hatched to trap the diplomat. So far, this was being informed to the media by the MEA in off-the-record briefings, on Wednesday the minister put it on record.

Meanwhile, MEA officials said Khobragade has been shifted to the UN Permanent Mission, NY, to ensure her full diplomatic immunity as further harassment was anticipated. The US, pressing criminal charges, justified her arrest claiming her non-official functions were not covered by such immunity.

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