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Devyani Khobragade: Indian MPs demand action against US

QuestCinq.com/News updated

Outraged Indian MPs have spoken out in parliament against the arrest and alleged ill-treatment of one of the country’s diplomats in New York.

Upper house opposition leader Arun Jaitley said the arrest was a clear violation of the Vienna convention.

Devyani Khobragade, deputy consul general, was handcuffed upon arrest last week and later strip-searched.

She denies visa fraud and making false statements over allegations that she underpaid her Indian maid.

The maid had complained the diplomat was paying her less than the minimum stipulated wages under US visa requirements.

Following her arrest, Ms Khobragade appeared in court last Friday and was freed on bail.

On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Ms Khobragade’s treatment as “deplorable” and Foreign Minister Salman Khursheed said it was his duty to restore the dignity of the diplomat.

Continue reading the main story

What is diplomatic immunity?

  • A form of legal immunity that ensures diplomats are exempt from prosecution under the host country’s laws
  • Agreed as international law in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961)
  • Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963) a consul is afforded a variation of diplomatic immunity called consular immunity
  • It guarantees immunity from the host country’s laws only with respect to acts related to consular duties

“I think the most important, immediate concern is to ensure that no further indignity is inflicted upon the young officer. And we are taking steps to ensure legally whatever is possible that we implement that immediately,” Mr Khursheed told parliament.

“In terms of giving a strong, unambiguous, direct message to the United States of America: whatever I believe we were supposed to do, we did immediately,” he added.

On Tuesday, India ordered a series of reprisals against the US. Security barricades around the US embassy in Delhi were removed and a visiting US delegation was snubbed.

US state department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf later tried to calm Indian anger.

“We understand that this is a sensitive issue for many in India. Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was extended,” she said in a press statement.

‘National outrage’

On Wednesday morning, opposition MPs from several parties called on the government to take action against the US.

Mr Jaitley of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said India should take its bilateral relations more seriously and “insist on being treated like equals” by Washington.

“Has the US held Vienna Convention in this? Who gave it the right to handcuff Devyani, treat her in this manner?” asked senior BJP MP Yashwant Sinha…

Source:BBC

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