Partial closure

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s return to India after the US government granted her full immunity brings to an end one chapter in the discordant saga between the two countries. Many in India will interpret Khobragade’s return without having to stand trial in the US as a triumph for India, a vindication of its position.

 However, it is only partially so as Khobragade was indicted by a grand jury in New York and the charges against her of visa fraud and lying about underpaying her domestic help will remain pending. Should she return to the US without diplomatic immunity she will face trial. India can draw some satisfaction from the fact that its diplomat was granted full immunity, will not face prosecution and is safe back home. It is evident that a deal was struck to facilitate an end to the stalemate as Khobragade’s indictment and the grant of full immunity came on the same day. Her indictment and pending charges enables the US to claim that the law took its course.  However, few outside the US will be impressed with such posturing. The manner in which Washington spirited away CIA operative Raymond Davies, accused of a double murder in Pakistan, disingenuously claiming he had diplomatic immunity when he didn’t, is just one example of its shallow commitment to the rule of law of other countries. 

The deal will arrest for now the downward spiral into which India-US relations had plunged in recent weeks. However, this is not the end of the story. While India’s tough stand did force the US to back down somewhat, there are several knots that need to be tied for full closure. For one, the US has not admitted yet that it violated diplomatic conventions in the way it treated Khobragade. No apology has been forthcoming from Washington regarding her arrest, her strip search and cavity search.  In the circumstances, such cavalier treatment of our diplomats could recur unless Delhi clarifies and underscores to the US that its violation of diplomatic conventions is unacceptable. India did well to stand its ground.  However, it must not treat Khobragade’s return as the end of the matter. The issues the row threw up are serious and must not be swept under the carpet simply to get bilateral relations on track. India must make it clear to the US that it is not business as usual so long as American officials act arrogantly in dealing with Indians.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry