Govt going slow on US request for augmenting mission staff

After the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, India allowed the US to create around 40 new posts in five missions -- New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad -- primarily to be filled by diplomats with security background, government officials said.

The US again placed a fresh request for permission from the Government of India to create some more posts in Indian missions.

However, officials said, no decision has been taken on the US request as New Delhi appears to be keen on a quid pro quo or at least diplomatic immunity for two persons involved in cases filed in New York.

In the first case, New Delhi seems to be looking for a favourable response from Washington in the case involving former Consul in the Consulate General of India, New York, Neena Malhotra against whom a law suit was filed by her former domestic help Shanti Gurung who alleged that Malhotras had tricked her into accompanying them to the US in March 2006 with the promise of Rs 5,000 a month.

Gurung claimed that she was forced to sleep on the floor of their apartment and made to do household chores 16 hours a day "often until 3 a.m. following frequent parties".

"Due to the law suit, Malhotra has not been able to take up a foreign posting," the official said.

The other case in which government was looking for US government help was related to a civil law suit filed in a New York court against Union Urban Development Minister alleging his involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi.

"In both the cases, Washington declined to provide diplomatic immunity," the official said adding as a result Nath has been avoiding travelling to the US.

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