U.S. to Review Indian Diplomat’s Arrest and Strip Search After New Delhi Backlash

State Department stresses importance of "mutually respectful" relations with India even as Indian government metes out retaliatory penalties on U.S. diplomats

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Adnan Abid / Reuters

A bulldozer removes the security barriers in front of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi on Dec. 17, 2013

U.S. authorities have invoked a “spirit of partnership and cooperation” and pledged to review the procedures that were followed in the arrest of Indian deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade, after the diplomat’s detention sparked a furious reaction in her home country.

“We understand that this is a very sensitive issue for many in India,” U.S. assistant secretary of state Nisha Desai Biswal told the Times of India on Tuesday.

Khobragade was arrested in New York City on Dec. 12 and accused of submitting false documents in an application for her housekeeper to live and work in the U.S. and of not paying the housekeeper a minimum wage. Indians have been outraged by her public handcuffing and arrest — which took place as she dropped her daughter off at school — as well as the fact that she was strip-searched before being released on bail. She has some diplomatic immunity in line with the pursuance of official duties, but consular officials can still be arrested or detained for a felony.

A State Department spokeswoman said standard arrest procedures were followed, and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) confirmed that “Devyani Khobragade was subject to the same search procedures as other USMS arrestees.”

However, India’s National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon called her treatment “despicable and barbaric,” while the Indian government said in a statement that it was “shocked and appalled.”

The Indian diplomatic corps has come to Khobragade’s defense, saying that her salary of approximately $6,500 a month would not have allowed her to hire a housekeeper on the U.S. minimum wage — about $4,500 a month.
Khobragade, who allegedly paid her maid less than $600 monthly, is married to an academic. She described herself in an interview with Indian expatriate website The Indian Panorama as someone whose ambition was to help “underprivileged women” and whose upbringing taught her that “women must be economically independent.”
In a bid to mend fences, Desai Biswal said the incident was “an isolated episode that is not indicative of the close and mutually respectful partnership” between the two countries. Earlier, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said “We do not want this to negatively impact our bilateral relationship.”

U.S.-India ties have been particularly warm since 2009, when Washington and New Delhi outlined a “strategic dialogue” covering cooperation in areas from science and economics to nuclear energy, education and combating climate change. India is seen as an important counterbalance in Asia to the growing might of China, and though trade is still relatively modest (India is the U.S.’s 13th largest trading partner), it is growing exponentially, surging more than 1,000% in the past two decades.

Nonetheless, New Delhi has taken a stern view of Khobragade’s arrest. In an indication of its ire, the Indian government has already ordered the removal from outside the U.S. embassy of concrete security barriers designed to deter terrorist attacks. U.S. embassy staff and their families have also been ordered to surrender their ID cards, and import clearances for the embassy, for items like liquor, have been suspended.

In a further twist, former External Affairs Minister and senior leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, Yashwant Sinha, said India should penalize same-sex companions of U.S. diplomats because homosexuality is illegal in India. “Media has reported that we have issued visas to a number of U.S. diplomats’ companions. Companions means that they are of the same sex,” Sinha was quoted as saying by Indian news agency PTI. “It is completely illegal in our country, just as paying less wages was illegal in the U.S.”

543 comments
SrikanthShivakumar
SrikanthShivakumar

India and the Indian Government, stop taking the fall and being stupid for a felony committed by your employee in the consular office. Apologize and compromise to Sangeeta Richards for ill treating her and violating her Human Rights, violating the labor laws of the local area.

Devyani and her Husband (who is an American citizen) willfully tricked the Visa office and they should be held responsible for helping Sangeeta falsify information on her visa application. I am not sure if Sangeeta is competent enough to understand the implications, she was happy to come to America and could have had the intent like every other Indian to become a permanent resident to escape the caste-system, political exploitation and beauracy in India.


I feel Sangeeta is the Victim and Devyani;s Husband should be the accused along with his wife who was an accomplice in this case.

Devyani’s Husband being born in America and working at a prestigious university in Philadelphia as an educator, has violated and committed a felon by falsifying Visa application information in bringing a maid to work in their household. He has used his wife’s consular connection to write books and promote the Indian Wine Industry in America, this shows they were aware of their busy life making money while they were exploiting and underpaying their house maid who was a daycare- for the 2 daughters, cook for the family and house cleaner.They must have worked her more than 40 hrs/week and that entitles Sangeeta overtime double pay, which may have not been paid. 


Under payment and work exploitation and holding an individual's passport as a way to prevent their escape, is a serious violation of  labor laws in America and an ethical violation in any country be it India or Somalia,The labor department and the New York City Police should be fair and treat Sangeeta, Devyani and Devyani’s husband as individuals and fine and punish them for their part in breaking local laws.

The Indian Government and Foreign Services, better stay out of this mess, since this is a personal violation committed by an individual employed by the Government of India. Recall the employee and compromise with the victim, who in this case, is Sangeeta Richards, request her to drop the charges and fire Devyani and send a message to other beuracrats that no one is above Human Law and ethics.


The Indian Government needs to review other consular officials worldwide in other Indian Embassies for violation of basic human labor laws and individual countries local labor laws. Train their consular staff to take care of their requirements themselves like every Indian who works abroad does. If you are lazy, pay to get help like every other person.


Devyani’s Husband and Devyani should be punished for the violation of laws in America and the Amensty Internationational should review this case of domestic exploitation of a house maid.

Indians and India call this a grey event in Indo-American diplomacy, If we Indians continue this case further, we are the one’s to loose. The call centers, biotech, software, financial, medical and clerical work from America that has boosted our economy will find other friendly countries like Srilanka, UAE, Lebanon, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Phillipines, Indonesia and Bangaladesh. The countries are waiting for India to slip, so that they can enjoy this good money that can boost their economy. If we think we don't need the dollar, you are mistaken. 


The ripple effect of these jobs moving out will be a crash of the stock market in India, the housing market in the major call center and American hub cities in India will collapse, the income tax base will be wiped out, TV channels and News media providing fuel to this fire will be smoked by loosing the base from consumer advertising as there will be no consumers and hence no ads to keep you news media alive.

Be silent and hope this issue is forgotten and we all can continue making some dollars. This is the bottom line, no money, no media, no politics, no commerce.....no spending


The present commerce and foreign exchange income to the Indian Government can vanish in 6 months, so be smart and sensible. In the name of Diplomacy, do not screw your commerce



Lastly

Yeshwant Sinha, (BJP politician)  watch your words and what you say about the GLBT community. I heard in one news channel, you said “Indian Government should retaliate against America on Devyani’s case and have the domestic partners of American Diplomats  arrested as the supreme court in India, declared gay marriages illegal”.  I urge the GLBT community in India and worldwide to take a stand against this kind of statement and hatred towards the community. This kind of a thought by a senior politician should be condemned and corrected. (search on youtube for the video).

DevGupta
DevGupta

DK most certainly gave false information in her Visa application. But the expectation in the Form that a maid brought over from India at the employer's expense, then provided both housing, food and perhaps med. care to by her employer should be paid the min. wage for open market is simply ludicrous. Min. wage laws addressed open market employment and just did not take these special cases into account. Applying such Laws to this case is simply IDIOTIC & ARROGANT. The State Dept. used it to protect the Maid who had disappeared and then sought a Green Card under humanitarian grounds. The great US State Dept., who since the days of Kissinger has been a den of arrogant Zealots once confined to Brooklyn & the Bronx, and has participated and perpetrated in genocidal frauds ( like putting up fabricated evidence at the UN to justify invading Iraq and killing several hundred thousands, destroying that country ) is not show-boating and using stupid Laws to prosecute Diplomats from a friendly country !


Who are the individuals at State that initiated this case ? Who is protecting them ?

ClovenAngel
ClovenAngel

America is only using India to contain China, they don't really care to be genuine friends with India.

SandeepAnirudhan
SandeepAnirudhan

bad reporting, as per whats avaiable on public domain, the visa form only listed the diplomat's salary as 4,500, and not what she promised to pay the help.  the stupid american prosecutors cant even read their own forms correctly!  

PrabhaBhaskaran
PrabhaBhaskaran

Indian govt. is playing damn stupid drama against US for a fraud idiot. 


The US govt. and the people treat Indians and others very well. 


There is no discrimination of any kind here. Devayani has committed severe mistakes that she may understand that at least at this moment. She has committed fraud as well as slavery-like activities which are severely punishable in US. 


Slavery was abolished in this country well before; during the period of Abraham Lincoln.


Fortunately America has not charged her for slavery ! 


Instead of begging for pardon for the mistakes or crimes knowingly or unknowingly committed by Devayani and the current Indian government run by damn frauds in India, to the American court as well as the American govt. so as to rescue Devayani form this situation, you are blaming US Govt, US Police, US Court and US Constitution. 


American Police always do their duty in excellent professional way. They don't insult or tease the people, they don't discriminate. Compare the police action of any state's police in India to a common man, with that of American police. How cheap, damn it will be, in India ?


Learn lessons from American Police, American Law.


The final result will be bad for India and Indians.


Our country is great and our Indians are great but the politicians are bad like hell and the government too. Damn politics. Lakhs of Indians live in America peacefully, safely and serve this country and send millions of rupees to India, including me. 


USA is extreme SOCIALIST country. People have freedom, liberty, rights and protection here; NOT ONLY AMERICANS, ALL 'PARADESEES'(FOREIGNERS !) residing here in US.


How many Indians working in China and send money to Indian parents ?


Finally one word:.. Immunity is not a license to do fraud or slavery !!!


Prabha,    A patriotic Indian living peacefully in USA

ArunKottur
ArunKottur

view and review make documents public

rs73
rs73

Light is a great disinfectant. Indians, unlike most americans with their pentecostal churches or pakis with their madrasas, value enlightenment. The future is bright.

vafars
vafars

Indians have no shame, they're corrupt and they don't hide it

AdityaEr
AdityaEr

Countries send diplomats to foster better relationships between the governments and people.  

Are we in a cold war?  Are we enemies?

A diplomat is on a transferrable job to the US. The issue could have been handled with tact.  A simple call to the diplomat warning her about the situation and taking away the maid's visa would have closed the chapter gracefully.

Now we have an ugly mini crisis all for nothing, except to tell the world that we have a  min wage policy that cannot be messed around with. 

We have invited the entire Richards  (maids)  family that will now join the legion of unskilled people looking for jobs.

The US embassies should widely publicise the  policies and laws related to the domestic staff of diplomats.  This will help nip the problem at the root.  Actually now  we have done it in loud clear terms though very un diplomatically.

Have a nice day.

petercmfjohn
petercmfjohn

There is no VIP culture out side India, criminals need to be prosecuted. Most of the Indian officials always a burden to the Indians in that country. For example two months back they didn't allow to take a dead body of a Malayalee to India who died in UK by telling various reasons. Every body knows whats the reason behind( those people people didn't use a funeral agent, those provide money to the embassy staff). When I go to embassy for a passport renewal they thrown passport towards me saying they need change.

Anshumaan Upadhyay
Anshumaan Upadhyay

Raymond Allen Davis a former United States Armysoldier, private security firmemployee, and contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA).On January 27, 2011, Davis killed two reportedly armed men in Lahore, Pakistan. Although the U.S. government contended that he was protected by ''diplomatic immunity'' because of his employment with the ''U.S. Consulate'' in Lahore. This is sheer double standard... :@

Robert Montague
Robert Montague

and India's nuclear arsenal that is so outdated and poorly maintained their missiles probably would will misfire if launched and I'm certain the neighboring nation are going to be really thrilled when the measures to prevent critical mass give out, its like giving cavemen firearms

simpleperson
simpleperson

Please note a basic error in the the journalist's article.  I'm surprised to see such an obvious error in something published by what I would consider a reputable entity such as Time.  

Minimum wage in the U.S. is not $4,500/month.  At $9.75/hour, a 40-hour work week would yield approximately $1,700/month. 

coffeeandtablet
coffeeandtablet

India's strategy was obvious from the start and is very fishy. Use the garrulous media to throw up a lot of smoke, follow it up with diplomatic posturing, eventually ask for withdrawal of the case. India has often been seen to create *leaks* which is then taken up by Indian media as the truth.

One would hope that the US stands firm on the independence and relevance of its laws on US soil. The world knows how ineffective the Indian legal system is. Repeated incidents show how such individuals get away once they are on Indian soil. What is an act of crime in the US is not in India. Even more so the judiciary goes soft on women.

rkyerram
rkyerram

Couple of things to note:

New York area has lots of folks who are the so called "illegal aliens" who are in this country illegally.

Most of them do contribute positively to the economy, a big deal is made including human rights issues if any concerned local authority even asks for documents let alone arresting and strip search.

It is hard to understand in this case where there is no domestic worker abuse, it appears purely monitory issue, what is the need for arrest and strip search.  It should have been handled in a better way.

Also, do not forget all the garments(T shirts etc.) in all stores across US from countries like Bangladesh where there are numerous cases of labor exploitation(low wages/poor working condition/long hours) which should be a big human rights issue.

Shubham Mishra
Shubham Mishra

go ahead implement your policies with pak....but if you say you're friendly with India don't try and humiliate us hiding behind the shield of law.

RyanAcres
RyanAcres

The Sangeeta Richards episode brings to mind the 2004 affair of a CIA spy who was posted in India. The U.S. spy served as a joint secretary in the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), when he escaped to the United States with his wife after causing untold damage to India’s national interests and security. Former R&AW special secretary and head of the counter-intelligence unit, Amar Bhushan, uncovered the scandal in his book, "Escape to Nowhere".

After Dr Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister, the CIA tried to infiltrate the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which is part of the Prime Minister’s Office. An unnamed lady CIA officer posted as a diplomat in the US embassy in Delhi was actually copied 1000 pages worth of Indian national security documents, but was never arrested or strip searched. Her task was to liaise with concerned Government departments in connection with the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum set up when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister. She reportedly used this opportunity to allegedly recruit CIA moles (American spies) in the NSCS, which coordinates the work of the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum.

These U.S. spy facts clearly expose the hypocrisy involved the the Devyani case.  Clearly, the United States and Preet Bharara are using double standards. Why doesn't Preet Bharara arrest and prosecute these CIA spies first? He can also offer them coffee before their arrest, if he wishes to.

gravityzero
gravityzero

Let me clear some air for American fellows:-

1) If on a charge you can strip search, allow us the same liberty. Don't raise eyebrows if similar treatment is meted.

2) If your law takes own course, our law also takes ages to decide. Don't crib if it takes years to come on a molestation or murder case. Let Indian law prevail. Why there be so hurry in taking decision. Respect Indian course of law.

3) If a person gets $6500 salary then $4500 should be given to your domestic help (as per american law). Come to India, wash your chores, wipe the floor & tell your domestic help what you want...you will see how meaningful things you will get to hear from them. In India, its pre-decided the rate of hire and not fixed by government. The hiring was pre-decided in India irrespective where the labour goes.

ONE BOLD QUESTION. WHEN GO TO WORK IN AFRICAN & ASIAN COUNTRIES, YOU TAKE MINIMUM WAGES DECIDED BY THEIR GOVERNMENTS OR YOUR FIXED SALARIES.


4) Take up a two way approach. If same behaviour is displayed by us you'd already be calling up US Embassy. For you, its previlige when it comes to your people & for us it is obligation when it comes to frisking, searching & 8 hour wait at the airport. Very nice. Truely cruel & mean Americans.

5) Next time Bill Gates, American Actors or Citizens come (who are not politicians) let Indian make them wait for 8 hour at airport citing terrorist or suspected names alliances and we will see its American Media or Indian Media raising the issue.


Indian Citizen

JosephMathew
JosephMathew

We all know the double standards of US. We Indian will treat you as the same you treat us. When you have to engage with China not except our help.

Kamakshya Prasad Sahoo
Kamakshya Prasad Sahoo

strip search is a common american procedure . They did it before to an ex defence minister , ex president and lol to an ambassador ,on the protext that she wore a saree . Big brotherly ?

rahulsingh2107
rahulsingh2107

Its high time for India to respond on the barbaric treatment of the USA. It's time for the USA to face the backlash. This is very simple..What you give is what you take....!!!

Tiger-Pi
Tiger-Pi

A very unfortunate turn of events and over-reaction by the Prosecutor/NY Police authorities has created this stand off. Before arresting any diplomatic personnel, even if they do not come within the purview of the Geneva Convention, the NY authorities should have consulted the US Dept of State or contacted the  Indian Embassy/ Consulate or the Indian External Affairs via the US Embassy in Delhi.  The US  Dept of State  sadly displayed needless arrogance, when they reacted with 'following all official  procedures' after the NY Police made a big blunder.  The entire diplomatic community in the US  must have been dismayed  by such uncivilized behavior on the part of a host nation. This has now forced the US Secy of State to express 'regrets'. 

NickNYC
NickNYC

Actually Vienna Convention on Consular Relations provides Consular Protection for not only consular staff but also their private staff from applying for work permits and social security cover in host nations. The very case is in the grey areas, in such light her grounds of an arrest are on thin ice. The Russians are super cool when it comes to this, they stared back and Mr Preet Bharara was forced to cower down.


Read Articles 41 through 48:

http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/9_2_1963.pdf


RyanAcres
RyanAcres

Rosanna Minchew, a U.S. spy working at the U.S. Embassy in India, was allowed a safe passage by the Indian govt. even after she was caught red handed in a spy scandal. She should have been sentenced to death in India. Rosanna stole important national security information from India's Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), but the U.S. pressurized the India govt. into letting her go. She was NOT EVEN arrested. Yet another example of U.S. hypocrisy and double standards.  

vafars
vafars

I would be pissed if I was Indian, I mean, they're ugly, smelly, corrupt and they try to hide their race by whitening their skin...Indians are pathetic.

petilon
petilon

Imagine that you got a job as a US diplomat in some rich Sultanate. Your pay will be $400 per hour, which is very nice, so you take the job. But guess what, the minimum wages in the Sultanate is $275 per hour, so you can't afford to hire a local nanny. So you take an American nanny with you, paying her $75 an hour, all living expenses paid for, which is very nice for the nanny. Everyone is happy.


But now the Sultanate arrests you because you didn't pay THEIR minimum wage. As is the procedure for anyone that is arrested, they sodomize you before throwing you in jail.


This is essentially what has happened to this lady. To an Indian lady, being strip searched is the equivalent of being sodomized to an American. Different culture, etc.

AnshumanSharan
AnshumanSharan

@vafars So, DK should be charged for being shamelessness and being corrupt too. right? Do some math work, and calculate the rent and food which has been given to the Nanny apart from the salary.

Someone is dumb ass, incensitive towards different culture and they dont like to learn anything.

simpleperson
simpleperson

@AdityaErshe knew the laws because she lied on the paperwork.  The laws are clear.  The root isn't a lack of knowledge about the laws.

rs73
rs73

@petercmfjohn 

There is no VIP culture outside India? In the USA, corporations are people! In the UK, you still think the queen means something! 

Europe and US are still stuck with the VIWP culture (very important white people) and things are changing back. Criminals do need to be prosecuted, perhaps we should start with the criminally ignorant.

 

simpleperson
simpleperson

please refer to the correct law.  There is a difference between diplomatic immunity when involved in work-related activities and the lack of immunity when involved in activities not job-related.

AnshumanSharan
AnshumanSharan

Indian missiles would never missfire, because it will not be fired at the first place. It is a country of love and peace. Since it's independence, India never involved in any war, always retaliated and replied when a war has forced on it.

rs73
rs73

Actually India has the worlds best engineers. We have enough left over to spare that it is who answers when you don't know that your computer isn't working because you didn't plug it in.

acharles
acharles

@simplepersonOne must wonder if the writer and editor are that careless, innumerate, or have salaries such that $4,500, a month seems to be a poverty wage.  As these are US marshals, i assume the national minimum wage of about $1,200 a month would apply.

simpleperson
simpleperson

@gravityzeroplease note the error in the article.  $4500 is not minimum wage required by law.  

It may vary from state to state, but appx. 9.75/hour for a 40-hour work week is appx. $1,700.  

    

 


vivekw
vivekw

@Tiger-Pi  Exactly! What if Indian police enforce old Indian law of prohibiting homosexuality ''following all official  procedures''? It's an  archaic  law of 1862, and India needs to change it; but what if they enforce and arrest same sex couples from US  embassy  in New Delhi? Governments should respect cultural differences and discuss for solution beforehand such situations arise.

AnshumanSharan
AnshumanSharan

@vafars That's the point ! There are many (or few) racist, and probably the officer dealing her case would be one among them. Keep writing, you are doing a good job in proving the point which we know and believe might have happened - Hatred for Indians.

sigtech
sigtech

@vafarsYou forgot the fact that they need to be waited on hand and foot.

roniee.sharma
roniee.sharma

@vafars and u probably are a garbage collector here who bathes like once a year. 

vafars
vafars

@petilon You're protecting this thing cause you probably have an slave in your basement...You perv.

AnshumanSharan
AnshumanSharan

@vafars @petilon As per the current Indian law, homosexuality is still a crime, an offense. I think all consulates living in India as homosexual partners should be arrested immediately and torturred to maximum to just make thing clear for better understanding.

prashanth09reddy
prashanth09reddy

@vafars Sir please do some research before posting .She didn't keep her as slave.This whole event didn't happened in one day.These are the sequence of steps that happened beyond the seen .Please read below.Please don't show pity on Nanni she played very clever game.


Please go ahead and give green card to Nanni and her family.They are the REAL DREAMERS of future USA 



http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Devyani-case-Its-all-a-maid-in-US-conspiracy-India-says/articleshow/27607516.cms



Read more: Indian Diplomat's Arrest in New York City Sparks Row With U.S. | TIME.com http://world.time.com/2013/12/17/indian-diplomats-arrest-in-new-york-sparks-row-with-u-s/#ixzz2nt1pKb3K