A diplomatic dispute over the treatment of a diplomat from India, who was arrested on charges of visa fraud in New York, has erupted between New Delhi and Washington. In India, top officials boycotted a delegation of visiting U.S. Congressmen in protest over the arrest.
The diplomat from India at the center of the tension between Washington and India is Devyani Khobragade, who is 39, and the deputy Counsul General at New York’s Indian consulate.
On Thursday, police arrested her in New York when she dropped her daughter at school. She is now facing criminal charges of lying on her visa form about the amount of money she paid a housekeeper.
There was outrage in India at reports the diplomat was handcuffed and then strip searched while briefly being held in jail with others who had been arrested including drug addicts. She was later released on bail of $250,000 after entering a plea of not guilty.
Officials in India described the treatment of their diplomat as despicable, humiliating and barbaric. Salman Khurshid, the Foreign Minister for India said that the incident was being taken very seriously by his government.
In a rebuff in diplomacy, Sushil Kumar Shinde, the Home Minister cancelled his meetings with a delegation of five members from the U.S. Congress, which is currently visiting the country.
Rahul Gandi, the leader of the Ruling Congress Party and current leader of the opposition Narendra Modi also were no shows at their meetings with the U.S. delegation.
New Delhi has asked all U.S. consulate officials in India to turn in their identity cards. The cards give them benefits for being diplomats. That is just one of a number of measures India currently is reportedly mulling over to review the benefits and immunity enjoyed by foreign consulates.
New York police, said officials from the U.S., followed all standard arrest procedures when they arrested the diplomat.
Prosecutors in the U.S. allege that Khobragade paid her housekeeper an amount that was less than the legal minimum wage. That said prosecutors was much less that the $4,500 per month she had written on her application for her visa.