Khobragade Gets Full Immunity, After Indictment Leaves for India

Must read

Washington, DC – Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, 39, at the heart of an ongoing diplomatic spat between India and the United States left the US on Thursday as the US granted her complete immunity, two weeks after her transfer to the India’s permanent mission to the United Nation. Now the Government of India (GOI) transferred her to Delhi.

The controversial arrest and strip-search of Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, on December 12, after a complaint from her maid, Sangeeta Richard, kick started a diplomatic row between the two democracies.

Confirming her departure for India from the US, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in Delhi said in a statement, “Dr Devyani Khobragade, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York, was accorded on January 8, 2014 the privileges and immunities of a diplomatic envoy under the terms of Section 15 of the Headquarters Agreement between the United Nations and the United States.”

On the US request to “waive the immunity of Counsellor Khobragade,” the statement said, “On January 9, 2014, the Government of India declined to do so and transferred Counsellor Khobragade to the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.”

“At the time of her departure for India, Counsellor Khobragade reiterated her innocence on charges filed against her. She affirmed her gratitude to the Government of India, in particular to the External Affairs Minister, and the people of India, as also the media, for their strong and sustained support during this period. She also affirmed her determination to ensure that the episode would not leave a lasting impact on her family, in particular, her children, who are still in the United States,” added the MEA statement.

On her departure from the Kennedy Airport in New York on Thursday evening, Daniel N. Arshack, Khobragade’s lawyer said, “As a result of her diplomatic status having been recognized, the Federal court today recognized Dr. Khobragade’s right to travel and she is pleased to be returning to her country. Her head is held high. She knows she has done no wrong and she looks forward to assuring that the truth is known.”

Arshack in a statement said, “We are pleased that the United States Department of State did the right thing today by recognizing the diplomatic status to which Dr. Khobragade has always been entitled.”

Arshack denied all charges against Khobragade and charged the maid’s motives saying, “Although the domestic came to work here on a short term contact which required her to return to India at the end of her employment as a result of the false claims and shoddy investigation, she and her family now enjoy permanent residency in the United States. The investigators in this case made serious errors as result of not fully investigating the facts. We look forward to providing the evidence of their blunders.”

Earlier before her departure from the US, a federal grand jury charged Khobragade with visa fraud and making a false statement for allegedly providing bogus information to get papers for a housekeeper she wanted to bring from India to the US and pay less than minimum wage.

“On two occasions when the victim became ill, the victim was not given a sick day,” the indictment said. “On one occasion, the victim had to ask to see a doctor several times before Khobragade relented. Khobragade told the victim not to get sick because it was expensive.”

“The victim was routinely called upon at all hours to perform her duties, which included caring for Khobragade’s two children, cooking, and cleaning Khobragade’s home,” the indictment read.

Arshack called the the indictment in the case as, “meaningless based as it is on a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts and documents.”

Since the arrest and strip-search of its diplomat, Delhi ordered a series of diplomatic reprisal measures against the US, and relations between the two countries strained over the case with cancellation of delegations to India including the visit of the US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Security barricades around the US embassy in the Indian capital were removed and a visiting US Congressional delegation was snubbed by senior Indian politicians and officials. In a latest retaliatory measure, Delhi ordered the US Embassy to stop “commercial activities on its premises,” and announced that US Embassy cars could face penalization for traffic offenses.

More articles

Latest article