Devyani Khobragade case: Strong Indian response shocks US officials

Dec 29 2013, 17:41 IST
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Summary'An inter-agency review is going on right now to look into the lapses that happened in the case.'

India's unusual tough stand on the arrest of its diplomat Devyani Khobragade has forced the US to initiate an "inter-agency review" to look into the lapses that happened in the high-profile case that triggered an uproar in India and strained bilateral ties.

The US departments involved in the review include the National Security Council of the White House, the State Department and the Justice Department.

"An inter-agency review is going on right now to look into the lapses that happened in the case," sources told PTI.

In a tacit acknowledgement of the fact that there was a "judgemental error" in handling this case, sources said the inter-agency team led by the State Department is "working 24X7" to get it resolved as quickly as possible.

Now that the matter has landed up in the judiciary, a lot depends on the judges too - for which the Department of Justice and the Southern District of New York is being actively engaged.

It is believed that the Department of Defense has expressed its displeasure over the manner in which the entire issue was handled.

At a time, when the Pentagon is busy reviewing its policy towards Asia Pacific region wherein India fits as a major player in its scheme of things and is eyeing to have a large pie in the modernisation programme of the Indian armed forces, the last thing it would like to see is any strain in its ties with New Delhi, officials said.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade, India's Deputy Consul General in New York, was arrested on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard. She was released on a USD 250,000 bond.

The 39-year-old diplomat was strip searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two sides with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.

The strong Indian reaction came as a "shock and disbelief" here, especially to those who have anything to do with the country's foreign policy, as they had never expected such a strong retaliatory measure from New Delhi.

Top officials of the Obama Administration - in particular those in the State Department, Department of Justice and White House - took it simply a matter of "enforcing" law of the land, which was exploited by Sangeeta to immigrate to the US. Those who matter in the India-US relationships including the government and the lawmakers have now started murmuring that

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