Govt seeks probe into sacking of Indian staff by US embassy

Aparna Srivastava alleged that she was unduly forced to resign

India has asked the United States (US) to conduct an “urgent investigation” into the allegations by a woman that she was subjected to inhuman treatment while working at the American Embassy here in 2012.

The US has been asked to probe into the complaint by Aparna Srivastava, who has alleged that she was unduly forced to resign from the job as her bosses were irked by her efforts to present “unbiased” narratives on the human rights situation in India.

“In accordance with existing international laws and practices, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has asked the US Embassy in New Delhi to undertake an urgent investigation into the allegations made by Srivastava,” Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed informed in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha (RS).

The National Commission for Women (NCW) had last month prodded the MEA to take “appropriate actions” on the allegation by Srivastava, who worked as a political specialist at the US Embassy from July 2, 2012 to October 19, 2012–the day she was allegedly forced to sign a pre-drafted resignation letter.
Ahmed informed the RS that the government had received Srivastava’s complaint.
Srivastava alleged that she was “victimised” by the US embassy for “her independent views on the reporting of the human rights situation in India”, Ahmed told the RS last Thursday.

The MEA earlier informed the NCW that it had forwarded Srivastava’s petition to the US Embassy and sought “an explanation”.

As she had earlier worked for the National Human Rights Commission, Srivastava was asked to work on the human rights issues after joining the American Embassy.

 She told Deccan Herald last month that her efforts to make an unbiased presentation on India’s controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act had irked her supervisor at the American embassy and she had been accused of being defensive about the Indian government and its institutions.

Srivastava lodged a complaint with the NCW in December when IFS officer Devyani Khobragade’s arrest in New York triggered a diplomatic spat between New Delhi and Washington.

Devyani seeks dismissal of visa fraud case

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade has sought dismissal of the visa fraud case against her on the ground that the indictment was filed in a court a day after the US accorded her full diplomatic immunity and the country did not have criminal jurisdiction over her, PTI reports from New York.

Khobragade’s lawyer Daniel Arshack submitted her reply in a federal court to Manhattan federal prosecutor Preet Bharara’s memorandum that had opposed her motion to dismiss the indictment. Khobragade was present in the US at the time the indictment was returned and “the State Department’s recognition of her diplomatic position with the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations conferred diplomatic immunity upon her requiring that the entire ‘proceeding or action’ be dismissed,” Arshack said in his 17-page motion filed on Friday. He, however, acknowledged that Khobragade can be prosecuted in future but insisted that the current case against her be dismissed.

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