Diplomatic row

Diplomatic row



The arrest and shabby-treatment of India’s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, by US  authorities on charges of visa fraud have created a diplomatic row between the two countries. India is right in protesting to the US that the diplomat was treated shabbily and that her rights under various international conventions had been badly violated. The US ambassador to India has been told of India’s concern over the unacceptable manner in which US officials  conducted themselves in the case. Indian diplomats in Washington have also conveyed New Delhi’s strong displeasure over the matter to the authorities there. It has been pointed out that the courtesy due to a diplomat in a country  of her work was denied to Khobragade and she was badly humiliated.

The diplomat was arrested and handcuffed in public near a school where she had gone to drop her daughter. The charges against her are that she committed a fraud by misrepresenting facts in a visa application for a domestic assistant and had underpaid her. There are different versions about her role and responsibility in the matter. While her family maintains that she was the victim of a conspiracy hatched by the domestic assistant, against whom a case had been filed in a Delhi court, US authorities insist that there is a clear case of violation of law against the diplomat. They also insist that she was not entitled to diplomatic immunity because the charge against her related to an action that was not part of her consular functions. However, there were other less obtrusive ways of arresting the diplomat if there was a case against her. She could have been given an opportunity to surrender and could then have been taken into custody, as she would not have absconded.

The US authorities probably wanted to make a public display of the arrest and highlight the offence allegedly committed by the diplomat. The US is known for its arrogance and lack of courtesy in diplomatic dealings. India is right in making a strong protest against it. However it is also necessary that Indian diplomats remain on the right side of the law in the countries where they work.  This is the third recent case of an Indian diplomat being charged with a similar offence. It is the country’s image that gets tarnished when they violate the law and get caught, unlike most often in India.

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