Devyani indicted, asked to quit US

Devyani indicted, asked to quit US

India on Friday expelled a US diplomat, after the American government made New Delhi to pull out Indian Foreign Service officer Devyani Khobragade from the country’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, as she was indicted in a court in New York for visa fraud shortly before flying back home.

The American government, however, issued Khobragade a G-1 visa and granted her full diplomatic immunity, thus recognising her new status as a counsellor to the Permanent Mission of India (PMI) to the United Nations and facilitating a safe passage out of the US.

Though Khobragade took a flight from New York late Wednesday, it did not end the month-long spat triggered by her arrest on December 12 for allegedly underpaying her domestic help Sangeeta Richard. India later in the day asked the US to withdraw a senior official of the US Embassy in New Delhi, as he was involved in facilit­ating the evacuation of Sangeeta’s husband and child­r­en to New York. 

Official sources said that New Delhi had “reasons to believe that the officer” of the American Embassy here had been “closely involved in the processes related to the case under consideration and subsequent unilateral action by the US side”. Though New Delhi did not reveal the identity of the expelled US official, it is understood that the diplomat had the same rank in the American Embassy here as Khobragade had in the PMI to the UN.

The US official is understood to have been given little more than 48 hours to leave India.

India had last expelled a US diplomat 33 years ago, in September 1981, when New Delhi had refused to accept George G B Griffin’s appointment as the political counsellor in the American Embassy here citing his alleged links with intelligence agencies of his country and his objectionable activities during an earlier posting in Kolkata. The US had retaliated by refusing to accept the appointment of Prabhakar Menon in the Indian Embassy in Washington.

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