After Khobragade: Can U.S.-India Relations Recover?

Diplomatic dispute over arrested Indian official is the worst moment in India-U.S. relations since India's 1998 nuclear tests

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Reuters

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade leaves with her father Uttam Khobragade from the Maharashtra Sadan state guesthouse to meet India's Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid in New Delhi on January 11, 2014.

Devyani Khobragade, the Indian diplomat at the center of a controversial spat between the world’s two largest democracies, returned to India at the end of last week, leaving her family and a grand jury indictment behind in the U.S. Khobragade, India’s deputy consul in New York City, was arrested Dec. 12 on charges of visa fraud and making false statements regarding the employment of her live-in domestic worker, to the shock of Indian officials who insisted upon her immunity. Reports of her treatment by New York police — which included a strip search — stung Indian national pride and drew the ire of Indian media, spurring New Delhi to take various retaliatory measures against U.S. diplomats posted in India. The impasse ended after the U.S. accepted Khobragade’s right to immunity, but immediately requested it be waived because of the existing case against her; New Delhi’s predicted refusal of that request led to her forced departure from New York.

Even if Khobragade’s repatriation brings closure to what’s been a tortuous, monthlong saga — and there are signs that it may not — analysts warn of the damage it’s already done to ties between the two countries. “It’s the most serious strain in the relationship since 1998, when India tested its nuclear weapons,” says Sadanand Dhume, resident fellow and South Asia expert at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “And we don’t know yet how far the fallout will reach.”

It may bemuse Americans that a diplomat’s brief detention could generate as much discord as the explosion of an atomic device. But the Khobragade crisis exposed lingering fault lines in the U.S.-India relationship, one that has grown leaps and bounds in the past decade and which officials on both sides routinely hail as vital. “It showed that [the two countries] look at each other still through very different lenses,” says Persis Khambatta, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. “And it’s not as rosy a picture as they might have hoped.”

Attention in the U.S. has focused on Khobragade’s alleged mistreatment of her maid, Sangeeta Richard, who was brought from India on a salary that many Indians consider fair, but whose plight, to the indignation of New Delhi, has been characterized by prosecutors as a form of human trafficking. The anger in India has less to do with the particularities of the case and more with the public and humiliating way in which the events proceeded. It didn’t help matters that the Indian diplomat who was strip-searched was a woman, prompting outrage in the Indian media over an American violation of India’s national honor.

“No one is questioning that she may be guilty in this particular case, but the treatment of the diplomat was just not right,” says Seema Sirohi, an Indian journalist and commentator based in Washington. “Things could have been managed very differently.” Indians are quick to point to the zeal with which the U.S. defends its own people abroad, even when they are guilty of far greater crimes. Just a few years ago in neighboring Pakistan, Raymond Davis, an American contracted to the consulate in Lahore, killed two people allegedly pursuing him, but had his charges dropped by Pakistani authorities after intense American pressure.

In an interview on Indian television this weekend, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid complained that the U.S. had not adequately made clear the gravity of the investigation to Indian officials, including the country’s Foreign Secretary, who was in Washington around the time of Khobragade’s arrest, which could have led to a quieter, quicker diplomatic solution. Khurshid has reason to feel chagrined: earlier in the year, Edward Snowden’s leaked documents on NSA spying indicated India was the “fifth most” snooped-on country. But Khurshid, at the time, played down the news, even while his counterparts in Europe and Latin America found cause to upbraid Uncle Sam.

The current imbroglio also stirred long-standing Cold War–era resentments over American bullying and lack of respect. “Make no mistake,” writes Brahma Chellaney, a leading Indian geostrategic analyst, “America would not have dared to arrest and strip-search a Chinese or Russian diplomat for allegedly underpaying a maid, because it would have invited swift and disproportionate retaliation.” The retaliatory actions India did take in the past weeks — which included removing security barricades from outside the U.S. embassy in New Delhi and barring U.S. officials posted in India access to duty-free liquor — smacked of a kind of petty “meekness,” Chellaney suggests.

The long-term effects of the Khobragade crisis are difficult to divine. A major sign that things are getting back on track, says Dhume of the American Enterprise Institute, would be the resumption of meetings between high-level officials in both governments. The news, at present, isn’t good: last week, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz pulled out of a planned visit to India in light of the ongoing spat. “It’ll take a long time for the trust and understanding to be rebuilt,” says Sirohi.

Moreover, there’s a sense that India’s centrality to U.S. policy has slipped in recent years, with the Obama Administration more distracted by crises in the Middle East and more wary of alienating China than the Bush Administration, which seemed to embrace New Delhi as a counterweight to Beijing to the east and forces of Islamist extremism to the west. “The current Administration has been doing just enough in its dealings with India to avoid looking complacent,” says Dhume. “It’s harder to imagine the State Department [under Bush] letting the diplomatic crisis that we just saw get so out of hand.”

Still, the fundamentals of a solid partnership remain, with considerable private-sector ties and a very active and affluent Indian diaspora growing in stature in the U.S. Despite the differences that emerged in the past month, the two countries are tethered by shared principles, which will be put to the test as the U.S. pursues its “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific region. “They are both democracies. They both share a view of a pluralistic Asia that is not dominated by one country,” says Dhume.

On the chessboard of geopolitics, then, Khobragade’s arrest may in the long term be insignificant. But the stink it has caused will take time to diffuse. “There’s a sense that this was a very avoidable circumstance,” says Khambatta, of CSIS. “It’s regrettable that India-US relations could take such a hit over what’s ultimately a small incident.”

356 comments
klp_pdc@yahoo.com
klp_pdc@yahoo.com

American law enforcement is out of control. No other civilized country allows a suspect to be strip searched before a fair trial and they are found guilty. Go to Europe and see how they treat the suspects and how they respect human rights. I do not like this diplomat and I wouldn't mind if she got a fair trial, but to treat her in such a way is a sign of a gestapo state.


ChittoHarjo
ChittoHarjo

The below-listed rules for the A-3 visa process are from a US Department of State brochure that is presented to domestic workers and other A-3 and G-5 visa applicants to make them aware of their rights under US law. When Dr. Khobragade applied for Ms. Sangeeta RIchard's A-3 visa, she signed a contract where she agreed to follow all of these rules. The only problem is that she never intended to obey the law. Her goal was to cheat the A-3 visa process to allow her to exploit Ms. Richard in New York. 


Dr. Khobragade chose to ignore all of these rules in her employment relationship with Ms. Sangeeta Richard.


****


US Department of State...


A-3, G-5, and B-1 domestic employee visas


If you work for a diplomat (A-3 visa) or a representative of an international organization (G-5 visa), or if you are a domestic employee holding a B-1 visa, your employer must provide you with an employment contract that complies with U.S. law.


The contract must include the following provisions:


* An agreement by your employer not to keep your passport, employment contract, or other personal property from you;


* An agreement by your employer to abide by all laws in the United States;


* An explanation of how much you will be paid for your work, as well as how frequently you will be paid; and


* A description of your work duties, weekly work hours, holidays, sick days, and vacation days.


Make sure that you understand the terms of the contract. If you cannot understand the language in which the contract is written, ask someone you trust to read the contract to you in a language that you understand. Do not sign anything that you do not understand!


When you apply for the visa, a U.S. Consular Officer will meet with you and confirm that your contract complies with U.S. law. Do not hesitate to ask the U.S. Consular Officer any questions. Your employer is not supposed to be present when you meet with the Consular Officer.


If you sign a contract that violates your rights, or if your employer does not do what the contract says, call the hotlines listed in this pamphlet immediately. They can help you find a lawyer who can help explain your rights in this situation.


See: http://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/LegalRightsandProtections/English%20Online%20Reading%205-20-2013.pdf

ChittoHarjo
ChittoHarjo

The Jan. 22, 2014 reports that Indian External Affiars Minister Salman Khurshid has met with US Secretary of State in Geneva to express India's displeasure with the US decision to issue a "T" trafficking survivor visa to domestic worker Sangeeta and her family members are disturbing.


Although domestic worker Sangeeta Richard and her family members have not yet received "T" visas, a category that is designed for victims of serious cases of human trafficking, they do deserve them. The abuses that Ms. Richard faced in Dr. Devyani Khobragade's home in Manhattan fit the definition of human trafficking as it is articulated in the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. Both India and the US are signatories to that international legal framework. Ms. Richard also meets the requirements of the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act.


Both Republican and Democratic administrations in the US have made combating all forms of human trafficking a very high priority.


To Americans, the often-heard Indian demands that Ms. Richard and her family be sent back to India sound just like the arguments that slave owners made in the southern US prior to emancipation in 1865. Those Africans who were lucky enough to escape chattel slavery in the South and arrived in the northern US were often the subject of demands that they be sent back to the South. When federal officers took African American Anthony Burns away from the city of Boston, Massachusetts in 1854 to be returned to southern slavery, 20,000 white Bostonians lined the streets of the city in protest along the route that Burns was marched through on his way to the ship that would take him back into servitude. In the years before the civil war, citizens of Massachusetts would tar and feather US Marshals who came to the state looking for Africans to kidnap and take back into bondage.


We do not force victims of slavery back into the hands of their so-called 'masters' any more.


After fleeing Dr. Khobragade's abusive home, Ms. Richard went into hiding. Dr. Khobragade: 1) contacted her father in India and arranged for a non-bondable arrest warrant to be issued against Ms. Richard for the dubious charges of breech of contract and alleged, but unproven theft from the Khobragade home; and 2) wrote emails to local New York police contacts and to the Indian embassy in Washington, who contacted the US Department of State. Dr. Khobragade and India's Embassy were pleading with these contacts to have the NYPD and the FBI track down Ms. Richard and have her sent back to India by force. We don't do that to people in the US either.


In effect, a scheme was hatched by Dr. Khobragade and her father to seek US assistance to 'corral' Ms. Richard, have her forcibly deported and then have her jailed in silence in India. The result of that scheme, if it had worked, would have been to shut-down the US investigation into this case.


Ms. Richard was paid a flat $132 per week for 90 to 100 hours of labor, according to the federal indictment against Dr. Khobragade. That amounts to an illegal wage of under $2 per hour.


When these abuses caused Ms. Richard to ask for: first) less work hours; and second) a return to India, Dr. Khobragade refused both requests. Dr. Khobragade also withheld Ms. Richard's passport and limited her movements outside the home.


Later, Dr. Khobragade arranged for retaliatory actions to be taken in India against Ms. Richard's husband, Phillip. In the US we call that behavior a serious criminal activity: witness tampering.


Recent news stories indicate that the US will be requiring in-person interviews of diplomatic domestics who will work in the Washington, DC region, so that State may inform these workers of their right to work free from exploitation and of the legal recourse available to them.


A Jan. 22, 2014 article written by Narayan Lakshman and published in The Hindu, "U.S. may suspend A-3 visa issuance to India," indicates that the US is considering halting the use of A-3 diplomatic personal employee visas by Indian diplomats and consular officials.


The US will never return Ms. Richard and her family to India. Nor should the US leave her in limbo. She and her loved ones deserve to be issued "T" visas.

VijayMK
VijayMK

Good job India!


American government officials continue to insist on feudal-type privileges while serving in other countries. Rather abnormally, the American government expects that even its non-diplomats should receive immunity. In some cases, they have literally gotten away with murder. Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor, was whisked away from the Pakistani judicial system after shooting and killing two Pakistani citizens. In the ancient days, only feudal lords stood above the laws of the land. Today, American government employees also enjoy feudal immunities overseas (even though most of them are law-abiding citizens while working overseas).


Few Americans are aware that the American government practices double standards in the application of laws. It allows no foreign government officials, including a powerful person like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then head of the International Monetary Fund, any immunity from American laws. Yet it expects its government officials to be — in theory and in practice — immune from other countries’ legal courts. Whenever any US government official faces the threat of prosecution in a foreign legal court, he or she is quietly whisked away, as few governments can withstand bilateral pressure from the US government.
All governments in the world are aware of this schizophrenic attitude of the US government. On one hand, the US government is second to none in defending the rule of law at home. On the other hand, the US government is second to none in defending immunity for its officials from all foreign legal courts and judicial procedures.

When the International Criminal Court (ICC) Statute came into force on July 1, 2002, the US government undertook a massive campaign to get over a hundred foreign governments to sign what have been called “article 98 agreements” or “bilateral immunity agreements (BIAs)”. These agreements stipulate that these countries would not send US citizens to the ICC. Similarly, the US Congress has developed a long-standing practice of extra-territorial application of its domestic laws on other countries and their citizens. But it is extremely reluctant to allow the extra-territorial application of other countries’ laws on its own territory.

This schizophrenic attitude of the US government explains why virtually every other government in the world was quietly cheering on the Indian government as it insisted on total reciprocity in the treatment of Indian and American officials. Few governments in the world have the geopolitical heft or the moral legitimacy to look the American government in the eye and demand such absolute reciprocity. India does. 

The Indian government’s success in persuading the American government to allow Khobragade to return home and not face charges in an American court will therefore be cheered all around the world. Most countries realise that they would not have had the weight to shift the US government. India is one of the few who could do so. And in doing so, India has also enhanced the rights and standing of other foreign diplomats on American territory.

ChittoHarjo
ChittoHarjo

As a veteran anti-trafficking activist, I can attest that the crimes that Dr. Devyani Khobragade is accused of are not trivial. The severity of the accusations certainly warranted: 1) a full investigation by the US State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security (a federal police agency); and 2) felony criminal prosecution by the US Department of Justice.

I have surveyed the relevant federal court filings, Department of State press briefings, and dozens of accounts of the case as they have been described in the Indian and US press. My view is that both the violations of federal law that are alleged in the federal indictment as well as the interrelated 'human trafficking' allegations against Dr. Khobragade are substantial and well founded.

Modern human slavery, or human trafficking as it is also called, is the third most profitable criminal activity globally, raking in tens of billions of dollars for criminal mafias and individual exploiters. It is overshadowed only by illicit arms and drug smuggling. For over ten years the US Government has been a leader in the concerted international effort to end these abuses.

One of the most common forms of this scourge is the intentional exploitation of domestic workers by their wealthy and middle class employers. Foreign diplomats who are stationed in the US comprise a significant category of such abusers. The Washington, DC based Break the Chain Campaign, which is a project of the Institute for Policy Studies has worked with over 250 victims of what I will call 'diplomatic domestic labor slavery' since 1997. I personally have rescued two Latin American diplomatic domestics from such labor slavery. One of those women faced patterns of abuse that were quite similar to what has been alleged in the Khobragade case.

In October of 2013, the Australian NGO Walk Free Foundation released its first annual report on the state of the world-wide trafficking crisis, called the Global Slavery Index. The report, which was created by a distinguished international panel of scholars and experts, identified the fact that out of an estimated 29 million total global victims, almost half, or 13-to-14 million enslaved people live in India. No nation comes anywhere near having that number of victims.

Within India, an estimated 90 million people, most women and underage girls, work as domestics. Many of them travel from distant rural villages to work and are at the mercy of their employers in many respects. Cases of physical violence, sexual assault, underpayment, overwork and the use of verbal abuse to control them are commonplace. News reports indicate that the estimated 170 annual cases of domestic worker abuse that are reported in Delhi are just the tip of the iceberg. Most often, only cases of severe beatings, murder or the near starvation of adult and child domestics rise to the level of judicial and press attention.

Few laws exist to protect the rights of domestic workers in India. Victims of abuses and underpayment have little recourse through India's legal system. Domestic workers have learned to network among themselves to warn their fellow domestic workers about the fact that a particular employer may be abusive and should be avoided. Even in New York, it was an Internet savvy network of South Asian domestics who collaborated to rescue Ms. Richard. 

Despite protestations across India that caste differences no longer exist, there does exist a pattern of remorseless abuse that has been routinely meted out by certain wealth elites to their domestic workers. That pattern of abuse is a well-known form of modern human slavery.

These facts form the backdrop for the events that have captured the public’s attention in l’affaire Khobragade.

ChittoHarjo
ChittoHarjo

Dr. Devyani Khobragade, who is a trained physician, hired domestic worker Ms. Sangeeta Richard to be her domestic worker in New York City. 

The following list of facts in the case require that we give due consideration to both sides of the story.

1) As alleged in the indictment, Dr. Khobragade wrote “Employment Agreement 1” – which was created to gain approval for her domestic worker’s A-3 diplomatic personal worker visa. In that agreement, and in the A-3 application, Dr. Khobragade: a) agreed to abide by US law in her employment relationship with Ms. Richard; b) agreed to pay Ms. Richard at least the New York state minimum wage for domestic workers ($7.25 per hour) and went beyond that and formally stated that she would pay Ms. Richard $.975 per hour; c) limited Ms. Richard’s work week to 40 hours; d) agreed, per the requirements of the A-3 visa rules, to pay all overtime hours that Ms. Richard worked, and e) agreed that Ms. Richard would have one full day off per week.

Ms. Richard signed this version of the contract with her husband Phillip acting as co-signer.

Dr. Khobragade is alleged to have intentionally violated all of the above legally binding commitments that she made as an employer of an A-3 visa holder.

2) As alleged in the indictment, Dr. Khobragade created “Employment Agreement 2” – which was intentionally hidden by her from the US State Department. That agreement deletes the many employee protections that the A-3 visa process rules require, deletes the 40 hour limitation of Ms. Richard’s weekly work hours, and set Ms. Richard’s wage at a flat $132 per week, or $573 per month.

Ms. Richard also signed this version of the contract with her husband Phillip acting as co-signer.

This second version of the contract actually governed the employment relationship with Ms. Richard.

3) Dr. Khobragade intentionally withheld Employment Agreement 2 from the US State Department because they would have rejected its exploitative work conditions. Employment Agreement 1 was a 'fake' agreement that was written to cheat the A-3 visa rules. The fact that Dr. Khobragade had two written employment agreements is prima facie evidence that the visa fraud and false statements felony charges that are listed in the federal indictment ring true.

4) As alleged in the federal indictment, Dr. Khobragade paid, in actuality, an average of under $2 per hour to Ms. Richard, while she simultaneously used verbal abuse to keep Ms. Richard ‘in line.’ Ms. Richard was forced to work an average 90-to-100 hours per week, for a flat weekly wage of $132.

5) Dr. Khobragade, also in violation of the terms of the legally binding Employment Agreement 1, withheld Ms. Richard’s passport from her. In addition, Dr. Khobragade refused Ms. Richard’s request to be sent back to India. Dr. khobragade also limited Ms. Richard’s movements outside of the home, in further violation of the A-3 visa rules.

The A-3 visa process has been structured specifically to end diplomatic domestic labor trafficking. Employers such as Dr. Khobragade are warned not to engage in human trafficking, and they are repeatedly admonished that visa fraud and the making of false statements on the application is a federal crime.

Beyond these facts, Sangeeta’s husband Richard filed a complaint with the Delhi High Court in July of 2013 where he declared that Dr. Khobragade was treating his wife as a slave by forcing her to work from 6 am until Midnight, 7 days per week, for little pay. That Indian court threw out the case by declaring that the events had happened in a foreign country.

Ironically, when Uttam Khobragade, Dr. Khobragade’s father, filed (what I identify as falsified) theft and breach of contract charges against Ms. Richard in July of 2013 in India, the Indian courts reluctantly issued a non-bondable arrest warrant against Ms. Richard, despite the fact that the events had taken place in a foreign nation. That and other actions taken by Uttam Khobragade were recognized in the federal indictment against Dr. Khobragade as acts of retaliation that required the US to evacuate Phillip Richard and the family’s children to the US.

On Jan. 15, 2014, press articles reported that a White House event had recently been held to announce the release of the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States 2013-2017.

President Barack Obama stated that: “Human trafficking is a denial of our common humanity and an affront to our ideals as Americans.”

The five year plan noted the following: “Recognizing the vulnerabilities inherent in domestic work and the need to foreclose avenues of exploitation, particularly of those employed by diplomatic personnel,” [the Department of State] “will continue its efforts to educate foreign mission personnel and their domestic workers about US federal, state, and local laws, including protections for domestic workers employed by diplomatic personnel...”

The US Government should continue to uphold the rule of law in regard to human trafficking. In the current federal prosecution of Dr. Khobragade, that requires that the case be kept intact until such time as Dr. Khobragade voluntarily returns to the US to face the serious charges against her. 

See also: Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States 2013-2017 - http://www.ovc.gov/pubs/FederalHumanTraffickingStrategicPlan.pdf

LoagKhas
LoagKhas

US-India relations can recover? 

I do not think this relationship has now reached such a level., Where return is impossible. Indians want to show Americans that he is not a Muslim country. They will behave when they are silent., Or understand the pleasure of Allah would sit

Ars Vik
Ars Vik

and pakisthanis as a terrorists

Filippo Toma
Filippo Toma

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Raghavendran Anirudh
Raghavendran Anirudh

one woman not paying her servant proper wages, and two of the world's big powers start quarrelling.

Voltaire
Voltaire

We, the US,  should be raising our minimum wages so that minimum wage can support a person without depending on food stamps and Medicaid. To term Sangeeta's situation slave like is an insult to poor in our country who get minimum wages that are insufficient to support a single person let alone a family. Only one thing I will hold against Devyani is that she didn't let Sangeeta return to India if that information is true; However, it appears that Sangeeta wanted to immigrate here.

Mahyar Yaghmaei
Mahyar Yaghmaei

@Gaurav, Since when is that an excuse to not get India's house in order. P.S. I find your unconfirmed report excuse to be an exaggeration.

Naveen Gatti
Naveen Gatti

Gaurav for some reason I highly doubt it, can you show me your source? Also you have to consider that a LOT of cases go unreported!

Kiran Bindu
Kiran Bindu

Depends on the maturity of US govt which is keen to burn bridges with friends n support fundamentalist regimes !

Neeta Pathak
Neeta Pathak

Its completely unfair of US to insist on Khobragade paying up more than half her salary to her maid. Their is no comparison between the economies of the two countries. No comparison between Khobragade's salary and her US counterparts. What it means in effect is that Khobragade cannot afford a maid because she is from a developing country. Conversely, the maid without any qualifications can earn almost as much as her boss by virtue of her position. Beats any common sense.

Harrison Joshua Cande
Harrison Joshua Cande

Does the human brain not find itself to be the most interesting thing in the universe? What captures the attention of brains more than when minds discuss brains? Braiiiiiiiins.

Harrison Joshua Cande
Harrison Joshua Cande

Does each Human Brain not enjoy watching a Mind destroy the realities that other Minds inhabit?

Murthy Adivi
Murthy Adivi

US has specified the rules properly.. Indians who are earning that much with plush jobs should respect the laws of that land stop being so cheap with money.

Rabail Qadeer
Rabail Qadeer

They will, diplomatically as well as politically. You better worry about the rapes. Ask if they will be eradicated or not?

sanjajain
sanjajain

@ChittoHarjo  

I have read all your posts. I have only one question for you. Would you accept the Indian style of treatment of criminals meted out to US  Consulars when they are caught breaking the law in India?( laws like homosexuality, teachers in the American school not paying income tax, selling duty free goods in the "club" etc.) or would you expect the US Govt. to repeat the Raymond Davies response?


Also have you really studied the Indian View of the case? Sangeeta Richards was declared an offender by the Delhi court and India had formally requested return of Sangeeta Richards two months before the September correspondence by the US State dept. Also the NYPD refused to accept a complaint about the absconding maid in June?


The Indian foreign secy was in New York on Dec.11. and she was not informed of the imminent arrest? Would you accept a similar scenario if this was a US consular?

Do you honestly believe the US was justified in "Evacuating" the Husband & kids? and that to on "Tax-Free" tickets?


All the rhetoric shown by you & earlier by the state Dept. rings hollow if you tried to honestly answer these questions and fairly view the situation.

Please note that I am in not saying that Devyani was Guilty or Innocent. All I am saying is that there are internationally accepted modes in handling such situations.

If the US is so very correct why are they not honestly answering all the queries sent to them by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs?

When the Law breaking antics of US consulars is uncovered what do you expect the authorities in India to do?


Sanjay Jain

ChittoHarjo
ChittoHarjo

@VijayMK  - If there have been cases of US abuses of diplomatic immunity in the past, those cases should be looked into and any injured parties should be compensated.


The cases that you cite do not require the US to ignore its own federal criminal laws governing visa fraud and the making of false statements. Dr. Devyani Khobragade was charged with these serious felonies at the end of a comprehensive five month federal investigation.


On Sep. 4, 2013, the US State Department sent a diplomatic note to India which advised that nation that Dr. Khobragade was under criminal investigation and could face imminent legal action by the US. The State Department also invited India to conduct its own investigation and to present Dr. Khobragade for an interview. Both India and Dr. Khobragade simply ignored these overtures.


India therefore simply chose to pass up a perfect opportunity to avoid the arrest and prosecution of Dr. Khobragade by withdrawing her voluntarily from the US, instead of being told to remove her by the US.


Many comments in the Indian press gloat about the US having been politically pressured into releasing Dr. Khobragade by way of granting her diplomatic immunity on the day of her indictment in federal court. The truth is that Dr. Khobragade is persona non grata here until such time that she voluntarily chooses to return to New York City to present herself in federal court.


The Indian Government did not succeed in avoiding the federal trial of Dr. Khobragade, it simply delayed the trial until such time that Dr. Khobragade decides that the cost of paying Ms. Sangeeta Richard, her exploited domestic worker, her due back wages is less than the cost of being barred from residence in the US.


From the perspective of the movement against modern human slavery, it is imperative that the rule of law in cases of human trafficking be enforced. Diplomatic domestic labor slavery is an abomination, and the US Government will continue to monitor diplomats and taken action where warranted. Most governments around the world agree that slavery must end.


Each and every time a diplomat or a wealthy elite member of society from any of the world's nations decides to come to the US to engage in underpaying, overworking and verbally abusing domestic working while restricting their movements and withholding their passports, as occurred in the Khobragade case, that person will be investigated by federal agents. If probable cause is found and diplomatic immunity is not an obstacle, the alleged perpetrator will be arrested, indicted and prosecuted. If they are found guilty of the charges filed against them, they will be punished in accordance to the law.


The US is giving out one free pass only to these perpetrators. And Dr. Khobragade's 'get out of jail free' card is only temporary.


ChittoHarjo
ChittoHarjo

@VijayMK  - Contrary to the impression given in some Indian press articles and commentaries, showing that the US is contrite in the wake of the Khobragade controversy, quite the opposite is true. On Jan. 15, 2014 a White House ceremony was used as a platform to announce that stronger measures to protect the victims of diplomatic domestic labor slavery are being put into force...


Khobragade row: US makes in-person registration of diplomats' domestic [help] mandatory

Press Trust of India - Jan. 15, 2014

"The US today said in-person registration of domestic workers of foreign diplomats would be mandatory, an apparent fallout of the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade over alleged misrepresentation of the salary paid to her maid.

Without making any reference to Khobragade's case, which resulted in a stalemate in India-US ties, the first-ever Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the US contained a series of announcements on domestic workers and their alleged exploitation..."

ipatriot
ipatriot

MILLIONS OF INDIANS  MAKE A GGOD LIVING,  BRING UP BRILLIANT CHILDREN ARE A MODEL MINORITY. THEY  LOVE AMERICA, FEEL AMERICa is the best country IN THE WORLD. INDIAN PARENTS SEND 100000 BRIGHT CHILDREN TO USA EVERY YEAR FOR HIGHER EDUCATION AND  A BETTER FUTURE.. MILLIONS MORE WOULD GIVE THEIR RGHT HAND TO BE HERE 

AmitAtlantaUSA
AmitAtlantaUSA

Mr. Mishra: I am a recent immigrant to this great nation, and I DEEPLY disagree with you! Yes, there are some racist elements in every society....but you can't paint an entire society using that brush!


Also yes, there surely is an element of American arrogance.......by a section of privileged Americans...more so when they are in third world countries as they take American values for granted.


Having said that, let's not play saint here, you and I know very well that we Indians also have enough racist blood within us!

Hdavid
Hdavid

We gave India no choice. We had many choices and plenty of time to make them.

kumar_shrn
kumar_shrn

@Voltaire Let me tell you about one thing you will hold against Devyani: When Sangeeta got Official White passport, her blue indian passport got submitted in India and when she took off from Devyani house she took that white passport. after 2 months she held a meeting with Devyani in the presence of US immigration asking of $10k plus visa for work in US. When Devyani told her that you are supposed to go India and cant arrange for these, Sangeeta started abusing and was taken away by the immigration officers.

Then Sangeeta consulted with Wayne and moved forward with this indictment plan.

Hope this will help you not to hold anything against Devyani now.

plus what Sangeeta has done is bad for the genuine maids exploited.

sedte
sedte

Hahaha! US maturity? Get real..they've been doing this for the last 200 yrs or so. India...60 years at best. India's actions have shown them to be infantile in their reactions. They claim to be nation high in IQ (whether true or not) but one thing is certainly evident after this incident...GOI does not have any EQ.

ipatriot
ipatriot

Her MINOR children  AGED 4, 7)  and husband ARE MANAGING VERY WELL WITHOUT DOMESTIC SLAVES, LIKE 350 MILLION AMERICANS. THEY ARE EATING WELL, GOING TO SCHOOL, CLEANING HOUSE,  AND TOILETS, DOING THEIR LAUNDRY TAKING CARE OF THEMSELVES WITHOUT AN ARMY  OF SERVANTS. THEY ARE FREE TO FLY OUT BECAUSE OUR GOVT GIVES THEM FREE AIR INDIA VIP  PASSES AND NOBODY STOPPED THEM, .AMERICA DID NOT. BUT THEY LIKE IT HERE WITHOUT SLAVES . 

THANK YOU.  

AmitAtlantaUSA
AmitAtlantaUSA

Firstly, the US is a nation of laws Maam!

Whatever the merits of the case, viewed from Indian side (BTW, I am Indian too!), it's a FACT that Mrs.DK's acts were a violation of American laws.

NO WONDER, she is HIDING behind her DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY (in her defense) while UTTERING in public that she's innocent, rather than come here and face the charges head-on!

The CORRUPT father & daughter duo are whipping-up passions of GULLIBLE Indians (like u!) by pitting India against the US, while trying to nail the maid's family in Indian courts through unfounded charges. No wonder, they were siphoned off from there.

The US may have somewhat over-played its hand, but it's well known that this matter came into the fore over 6 months back when the US asked India to act on the diplomat. But, the diplomat, her corrupt father and India (led by our Anti-US Muslim FM Mr. Salman Kurshid) tried to take both the US and the maid's family to task!

The result of all this is well known.

Even though the US also has come out badly bruised (with its diplomats under greater scrutiny all over the world), India and Mrs. DK also have been badly hurt in the process. 

Hdavid
Hdavid

We seem to think that.

klp_pdc@yahoo.com
klp_pdc@yahoo.com

Same with rapes and school shootings in US. Will they ever stop?

ChittoHarjo
ChittoHarjo

@sanjajain @ChittoHarjo  - Thank you for your question Sanjay.


If US diplomats and consular officials and their spouses committed violations of the law in India, your nation is welcome to prosecute them.


It is a fact that domestic worker Sangeeta Richard had a non-bondable warrant issued by the Delhi court for her arrest. That was issued shortly after Ms. Richard fled Dr. Khobragade's abusive home. Dr. Khobragade went to court and sought the warrant as part of a collusion with his daughter Devyani that was meant to intimidate and silence Ms. Richard.


In regard to what people refer to as the "absconding maid," this nation had a long and ugly history of slavery. Southern plantation owners used to insist that federal marshals go to Massachusetts and other non-slavery havens for free Black people, and attempt to kidnap those people and seend them back to the southern plantations that they had escaped from.


We don't capture 'absconding maids.' Why anyone in India thought that the US government should track down a victim of human trafficking and send her back into the arms of those who were engaging in an increasingly aggressive campaign of intimidation and witness tampering against her is... beyond me.


Effectively, Dr. Khobragade in New York coordinated an effort to threaten Ms. Richard's husband Phillip, to try to force him to convince his wife to stop cooperating with US authorities. Mr. Richard was called and threatened by Uttam Khobragade with being arrested on falsified illegal drug charges,


The US Government had every right to offer Phillip Richard and the family's children visas and paid airfare to fly to the US. Wouldn't most Indian citizens accept such an offer? Why should anyone in India be upset by the fact that a family voluntarily migrated to the US.


They are upset because that flight ended any chance of intimidating Ms. Richard into stopping her cooperation with prosecutors in developing the case against Dr. Khobragade.


On Jan. 29, 2014 the US Department of State's legal counsel submitted an opinion to US Attorney Preet Bharara that declared that Dr. Khobragade did not have diplomatic immunity on the date of her arrest, Dec. 12, 2014. Furthermore, State said that Dr. Khobragade no longer holds immunity, because she left the US two days after receiving US approval for her appointment to the United Nations.


Dr. Khobragade will only be allowed back into the US to face trial in Manhattan.

gujri12alli
gujri12alli

@ipatriotWhat that has to do with anything, you idiot. If Indians go there so do the people from other countries.They give visas to Indians because they want them..so many Americans are just high school  pass out. lot of Indians are also coming back from US as India is developing. Yes they will give there right hand because they are poor and want opportunity not because they love US.Same opportunities in India and they will stay back..its just about economy and US economy is on decline..

gujri12alli
gujri12alli

@AmitAtlantaUSA So you mean to say that now you are a immigrant to US and your loyalties have shifted and now you will talk about Indian shortcomings as a nation with this incidence. Where Officers of US embassy are being racist.This is not comparable to what Indians have done to US.One thing is sure in so many Indian blood the moment they land in US they start singing songs about US and the country they lived for so long they start bashing it.Hey live there for 10 years and then compare. people get shot in malls, schools, road sided everyday In US. US is a big corporate ans every relation is that country is for money.You will understand US after living there for a while but right now everything is good in US and bad in India.Make dollars and stay happy..

rajeevapandey
rajeevapandey

@AmitAtlantaUSA Mr Amit, Having gone over this long thread, I assume you must be 50+ (Spent 3 decades in India and two in US). I expected a lot of maturity in your writings and opinion. I assume you should be intelligent having a good IQ (assuming US didn't go wrong in their assessment of yours while giving you the VISA). Before waiting for the verdict from court, you have already declared her a criminal! I sincerely hope that you and any one of your family member don't get into a similar situation in the US. Hope your wife or mother don't endure a strip or cavity search!. May I ask you to respond to a couple of issues? You have the liberty of completely ignoring them. Still, I mention and ask for your response:

(a) Was the parking lot in front of Indian Embassy in the US recently converted into a public parking open to all?

(b) Is there any barricading or stopping traffic in front of Indian Embassy in US?

(c) What are the special privileges like unrestricted access to airport, no frisking etc avbl to Indian Diplomats in the US, They had till sometime back.

(d) Did you hear Dr APJ Kalam had to go through frisking and remove his shoes not once but twice in the US for security reasons? Your raections pls!

(e) Evacuation of three Indian nationals from India by US embassy officials giving the immigration visa, they are Mr Phillip and two children (husband & kids of Sangeeta Richard), Your comments!!!!

(f) Pls be aware that they worked in US embassy officials home and office earlier.

I understand your predicament because you are in the US, but at least don't be harsh to your motherland, if you still consider it so!

gujri12alli
gujri12alli

@AmitAtlantaUSA This man is not an Indian. You heard of Raymond Davis, Edward snowden..US laws ha ha ha ha ha...yes they will tap your phone..and you can try as hard as you want to be an American but your face will always be an Indian.You look like brother of preet brahara ,you guys will do and say anything to look more amaerican than american (MATA syndrome).Surely this time US law has gone in your favor...idiot

gujri12alli
gujri12alli

@AmitAtlantaUSAYes US has the worst arms control law. Anybody can buy an arm and kill what are you talking about? situation is really bad and people in US are controlled by arms lobby and government spying.Phone tapping..you heard of Edward snowden and story of great nation laughable..

gujri12alli
gujri12alli

@AmitAtlantaUSATruth is always in the middle but people like you go to US for dollars that is not untrue.You can say whatever but can't be denied.Enjoy the middle ground..

AmitAtlantaUSA
AmitAtlantaUSA

@gujri12alli@AmitAtlantaUSA


I respect & admire (as well as criticize) both India & the US and Indians & Americans......as two of the GREATEST NATIONS & GREATEST PEOPLE in the world.....for their own reasons!


Having said that, I have lived for over 3 decades in India, and nearly 2 decades in America.


The US is NOT what some Indians think (shooting in malls, schools everyday, racism etc.) and India is NOT what some Americans think of (raping women on buses, snake charmers, etc.).


The TRUTH is always somewhere in the middle....u need to educate yourself before u can understand all these!



AmitAtlantaUSA
AmitAtlantaUSA

@rajeevapandey@AmitAtlantaUSA


I called Mrs.DK and her IAS father corrupt as they have a case going on (Not sure if verdict is out) on Adarsh housing scam, and her father's manipulatiosn of her seniority to get her plum postings (in Germany & US). Also it's well know that she made a false declaration on the Visa appln. for her maid.

a) I don't know about that.

b) No, b'coz there's not a grave threat against Indian embassy unlike US embassies all over the world.....thanks to millions of Muslims in all these countries, most of who hate the US!

c) I am ware that many of these privileges which arrogant US diplomats demand and get are not provided by Americans to others incl. Indians

d) Have heard about it, don't know all the facts. Some of these things happen b'coz of the utter incompetence (lack of knowledge, arrogance etc.) of some US immigration officials.

e) From what I have read, when the maid filed a complaint against Mrs.DK over 6 months ago, and the US asked India to act on it, India (led by its anti-US Muslim FM, Mr. Salman Kurshid), the diplomat & her corrupt father tried to nail the maids family with false charges. So, they were siphoned off from India.

f) I am not aware, and even if that's true, not sure why that should be a factor


Also check out this response I had already posted on Time - so that you understand where I am coming from:



Here are some salient facts about the case and it's after-effects:


a) Firstly, NOBODY in India condones this woman's act. She & her father have already been indicted in Indian courts for corrupt practices.


b) The entire outrage was in view of the treatment meted out to her, particularly strip cavity search (which I believe is reserved in 41 states only for dangerous criminals), and locking her up with drug addicts.


c) Normally most countries treat diplomats caught in even unsavory acts with some respect, and quietly ask the countries concerned to withdraw them.


Having said that, the GREATEST LOSERS in this entire drama are:


e) US Diplomats who were unquestionably accorded enormous benefits by the host countries (way beyond what they were entitled to under standard diplomatic norms). This stands withdrawn (probably for ever) not only in India, but very likely by many other countries too fed up by display of US diplomatic arrogance (e.g. Pakistan's experience in the Raymond Davis episode).


f) The diplomat herself who in all likelihood can never set foot on US soil w/o a plea deal. Given that her husband ( a well known Univ. of PA prof. & two minor kids) are US born; they may have to settle elsewhere out of reach of US law enforcement.


g) Both the diplomat & her Indian Admin. Service official Dad - once the controversy dies down, Indian public will focus their attention on the corrupt duo.


h) Finally, India also will be made to pay a significant price by the US for messing with it.....thanks to India's over-zealous reaction by its anti-US Muslim Foreign Minister!  


The ONLY person who seems to have won here is the maid Ms.Sangeeta Richard who NOT only got an opportunity to get into the US (something most uneducated Indians can only dream about....courtesy the Indian diplomat), but now can hope to obtain perm. residency too!