Devyani's father meets Home Minister

New Delhi, Dec 17 : The father of Indian Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade, arrested on visa fraud charges in New York, met Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Tuesday and said he was assured of the government's support for his daughter.

"The home minister has said the government is responsible for her security and liberty. The whole government is supporting us and that she was on duty, and hasn't committed any crime," Uttam Khobragade told reporters here after his meeting with Shinde.

He said that what was done to his daughter was absolutely atrocious and that she is liable for diplomatic immunity.

Meanwhile, India on Tuesday started hitting back at the United States over the maltreatment of Devyani Khobragade by taking a clutch of measures against the US diplomats and their families in India with some moves as symbolic as removing barricades outside US embassy in New Delhi.

US diplomats and their families were asked to surrender their identity cards and their airport passes are being withdrawn after it was known that the Indian diplomat was strip searched and put with drug addicts in a cell in USA after her arrest over an alleged visa fraud.

India has asked the US officials here to submit salary details of their staffers and domestic helps they employed here besides seeking tax details of teachers from USA working in India.

India is stopping all import clearances for the American embassy.

Barricades outside the US embassy in Delhi were removed.

While BJP leaders like Yashwant Sinha went to the extent of asking for arresting gay US diplomats in India since the Supreme Court has now once again criminalized gay sex in India, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said they have communicated their dissent strongly.

"Disquiet very, very strongly felt. We have communicated the dissent we feel," said Khurshid.

"It is completely unacceptable. We have put in motion what we believe will be an effective way to address this issue and protect her dignity," he said, adding that "everything that can be done, will be done."

Following reports of ill-treatment of Devyani Khobragade by the New York Police, Shinde and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi earlier in the day reportedly refused to meet a US Congressional delegation.

According to reports, Khobragade, who was arrested for alleged visa fraud and handcuffed in public view last week, was allegedly stripped and searched at a police station in New York.

She was also allegedly kept in a lockup with common criminals and drug addicts.

The U.S. Department of State has said Khobragade does not enjoy immunity from US laws.

"Under the Vienna convention on consular relations, the Indian Deputy Consul General enjoys immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts only with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions," said a spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State.

"We are handling this incident through law enforcement channels. We have a long-standing partnership with India, and we expect that that partnership will continue," the spokesperson said.

India on Friday said the arrest of the senior Indian diplomat in USA for alleged visa fraud was unacceptable.

Khobragade, 39, was arrested in New York for alleged visa fraud but was later released after furnishing a bond of 250,000 USD, officials said on Thursday.

According to reports and an Indian embassy statement, Khobragade was arrested by the US police while she was dropping her daughter in school on Dec 12, but released in the evening same day.

Khobragade is the Deputy Consul General in the Indian Consulate in New York.

Reacting to the incident, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson SyedAkbaruddin told media: "Dr. Devyani Khobragade is a diplomat who is in the US in pursuance of her duties and hence is entitled to the courtesy due to a diplomat in the country of her work. She is also a young mother of two small children. We are shocked and appalled at the manner in which she has been humiliated by the US authorities. We have taken this up forcefully with the US Government through our Embassy in Washington."

"We are also reiterating in no uncertain terms to the US Embassy here that this kind of treatment to one of our diplomats is absolutely unacceptable. The Ministry of External Affairs is working to resolve the matter at the earliest," he said.

Akbaruddin said: "As regards the facts of the case, our Embassy in Washington has put out a press release and these are available,as we perceive them. If there are issues of a legal nature, these will be resolved separately. And you would appreciate that at this stage I would not be in a position to go into the legal issues if there are any. But as far as we are concerned, this sort of behaviour towards an Indian diplomat is completely unacceptable."

India summoned US ambassador to India Nancy Powell over the issue.

Akbaruddin said the treatment meted to the Indian diplomat was 'unacceptable'.

"We will take issues of legal nature separately but there is no justification or acceptability of what has happened this morning to a young Indian diplomat who was there to drop her children in school. This is simply not acceptable to us," he said.

Reports said Khobragade was even handcuffed in public for allegedly making false statements on a visa application for an Indian who worked for her.

Reports said her arrest followed after it was apparently found that he falsified documents on the babysitter of her child and her housekeeper who was working at her place.

--IBNS (Posted on 17-12-2013)

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