Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade arrest row escalates as India retaliates, expels US Embassy official

Jan 10 2014, 22:35 IST
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An Indian government official said the US diplomat was involved in the case relating to Devyani Khobragade. An Indian government official said the US diplomat was involved in the case relating to Devyani Khobragade.
SummaryIndian diplomat Devyani Khobragade row turns worse within hours of Preet Bharara resting case.

India today expelled senior US diplomat within hours of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, IFS, being asked to leave the US after her indictment in a visa fraud case for which she was arrested nearly a month ago, triggering strong reaction from the government here - prosecutor Preet Bharara, himself of Indian origin, had said in morning he would wait to prosecute Devyani till she lost her diplomatic immunity.

The unnamed Director-rank American diplomat based here was given "a little more than 48 hours" to leave India even as Devyani Khobragade was on her way home from New York, where the US government finally approved her accreditation to the UN which gave her full diplomatic immunity as against partial immunity at the time of her arrest on December 12 when she was Deputy Consul General there.

India's tit-for-tat action is only the second instance of a US diplomat being expelled, the first instance being expulsion of George Griffin, then political Counsellor, 33 years ago. That was in retaliation against similar action being taken by the US against Prabhakar Menon, an Indian diplomat.

Refraining from using the term "expulsion", official sources said here that the US Embassy has been asked to "withdraw" one of its diplomats of similar rank as that of Devyani Khobragade, which the government "have reasons to believe, is closely involved in the processes relating to this case and subsequent unilateral action by the US." However, the sources did not divulge the name of the American diplomat.

The diplomat was understood to be closely involved in the "evacuation" of the family of Devyani Khobragade's absconding maid Sangeeta Richard.

Earlier today in New York, Devyani Khobragade was indicted for visa fraud and making false statements by a grand jury which held that the charges against her will remain with main prosecutor Preet Bharara saying, "There will not need to be an arraignment on the indictment scheduled at this time. We understand that the defendant was very recently accorded diplomatic immunity status.

"Therefore, the charges will remain pending until such time as she can be brought to Court to face the charges, either through a waiver of immunity or the defendant's return to the United States in a non-immune status....".

It is understood that it was always the effort of the government to bring back Devyani Khobragade, who had surrendered her passport after the arrest and was out on a bail of USD 250,000, through G-1 visa route

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