Angry India downgrades privileges of US diplomats
India today retaliated strongly to the arrest of its Deputy Consul General in New York by initiating series of steps to strip US diplomats and their families of privileges including withdrawing all airport passes and stopping import clearances for the embassy.
Asking all Consulate personnel and their families to turn in their ID cards immediately, the government has also sought key information such as salaries paid to all Indian staff employed at the consulates and by Consulate officers and families including as domestic helps.
"The government has asked for all US Consulate personnel's ID cards and that of their families immediately. These will now be downgraded on par with with what the US provides to our Consulates in US," sources said.
The government has asked the US to provide it with visa information and other details of all teachers at US schools and pay and bank accounts of Indians in these schools.
Apart from these measures, Government has stopped all import clearances for the US embassy including for liquor.
Also, the traffic barricades near the US embassy on Nyaya Marg here will be lifted except the picket.
India has reacted sharply to the arrest of Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade, who was handcuffed in public in New York on visa fraud charges last week. Earlier, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh summoned US Ambassador Nancy Powell and issued a demarche in this regard.
The displeasure was also evident among leaders and officials of Indian government who cancelled their meetings with visiting US Congressional delegation. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today cancelled his meeting with the US team 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 visa fraud charges on a street in New York as she was dropping her daughter to school before being released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.