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Diplomat row: India Asks US Diplomats To Return IDs

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In an escalating diplomatic row, India has asked the US to return IDs issued to all its consular officers posted in the country, a move which may be a precursor to reviewing immunity and benefits enjoyed by them as a protest to the treatment meted out to India's Deputy Consul General in New York.

"Government has asked the US to return the ID cards given to their consular officers posted in India," Government sources told PTI.

It is understood that the government intends to review the immunity and benefits enjoyed by US diplomats.

Significantly, the review comes after India reacted sharply to Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade being arrested and handcuffed in public in New York on visa fraud charges last week by summoning US Ambassador Nancy Powell and issuing a demarche in this regard.

The displeasure was also evident among leaders and officials of Indian government.Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today cancelled his meeting with a senior US Congressional delegation ostensibly as a mark of protest against the treatment meted out to Khobragade.

Yesterday, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar had cancelled her meeting with a senior US Congressional delegation due to the same reason.

National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, who also had a scheduled meeting with the five-member US team, did not meet them, apparently for the same reason.

The delegation comprised Congressmen George Holding (Republican - North Carolina), Pete Olson (Republican - Texas) David Schweikert (Republican - Arizona), Robert Woodall (Republican - Georgia), Madeleine Bordallo (Democrat - Guam).

39-year-old Khobragade, a 1999-batch IFS officer, was taken into custody last week on a street in New York as she was dropping her daughter to school and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges before being released on a $250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.

US Justifies Strip Search
The US on Tuesday (17 December) virtually justified the reported strip search by New York police of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, saying "standard procedures" have been followed during her arrest.

"Diplomatic Security, which is under the State Department purview, followed standard procedures during her arrest," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at her daily news conference.

Harf was asked about media reports that 39-year-old Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General at
New York, was strip searched and confined with drug addicts after her detention.

Media reports also said she was subjected to DNA swabbing.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade was arrested as she was dropping her daughter to school
and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges before being released on a $250,000 bond
after pleading not guilty in court.

"Our Diplomatic Security folks followed our standard procedures, which I'm assuming are standard for diplomats because that's who our Diplomatic Security deals with," Harf said.

However, she referred the allegations regarding inhuman treatment of Khobragade to the US Marshalls, saying the Indian diplomat was handed over to them by the Diplomatic Security.

Harf said 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.

"There's different kinds of immunity. This isn't just in the US; it's all around the world. So in this case, she fell under that specific kind of immunity, and would be liable to arrest pending trial pursuant a felony arrest warrant," she said.

India has reacted sharply to Khobragade being arrested and handcuffed in public by summoning
US Ambassador Nancy Powell and issuing a demarche in this regard.

(Agencies)


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