Indo-US ties rocked by police highhandedness

Was it clumsy? Yes, it was? Was it warranted? Not really? There is a code of conduct in the diplomatic corps. She was not on parole, she had not committed a felony, she could easily have been summoned to the precinct and had the charges and her rights read to her. There was no need to embarrass her in front of her kids.

A leading advocacy organization representing over three million Indian Americans in the US has strongly condemned the arrest procedures of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade. Frankly, this now frequent abuse of domestic help hired by Indian diplomats is going a step too far. Not because it cannot happen but because there is a pattern to it which makes it suspicious. In this case paying $4000 a month as salary is nonsense. No one pays that kind of money and when these domestics leave India they are already considering staying in the States.

Yes, there is slavery in the West and yes, diplomats might be taking advantage of the poor but to make working more than six hours a day a crime is absurd. We all work more than 40 hours a week, so stop with the piety.

There is a film called “I am slave” which ends on the chilling note that there are 5,000 slave workers in London city alone. They are brought there by the rich and the powerful and kept under lock and key so I’d be the first to check out all complaints of that nature. But there has to be some sort of justification for such highhandedness. The maid disappeared a year ago. It is not as if her complaint is fresh.

And more often than not, it is the US where it happens. Too much of a coincidence and more an opportunity for the Attorney Preet Baraar to make his bones on a high profile case.

US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) said it found the comments of State Department spokesperson Marie Harf justifying her strip search as “particularly offensive.”

What is there to strip search her for…she isn’t carrying past salaries in her clothes. 

The Committee also quoted its chairperson Sanjay Puri as saying they were making inquiries about the arrest procedures of Khobragade and that concurred with the general sentiments of members “that failure in diplomatic protocol can cause irreversible damage to US-India relations.”

In a statement Tuesday, the USINPAC that works on issues that concern the community said it “strongly condemns the arrest procedures undertaken by the US Marshal Service and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Officials in last week’s arrest of Devyani Khobragade, the deputy consul-general of India, in New York City.”

All too often the diplomat is held at ransom and blackmailed, something quite easy to engage in, especially if you have advisers. But the merits of the case are mutually exclusive from the way the diplomat was treated.

“Khobragade, who is accused of making false statements in a visa application for a household staff and paying less than minimum wage, was led away in handcuffs in front of her young daughter at the child’s school and then strip-searched, cavity-searched and swabbed for DNA at the police precinct like a common criminal.” “USINPAC found comments by State Department spokesperson Marie Harf particularly offensive given Harf is reported in press stories as having said, ‘standard procedures’ were followed and that this is merely ‘an isolated episode.’” It maintained, “Strip search, cavity search and DNA swabbing is not ‘standard procedure.’”

“USINPAC unequivocally asserts that the dignity and respect due to any person and any diplomat is non-negotiable,” the statement said.

Sanjay Puri said: “We are making inquiries and asking our Members of Congress to investigate the arrest procedures of Khobragade.”

Puri responded to a deluge of USINPAC member questions Wednesday and concurred with their general sentiments that failure in diplomatic protocol can cause irreversible damage to US-India relations, a country viewed by a majority of Americans as a critical ally in a troubled region. 

However, Puri urged diplomatic and political restraint both in India and in the US while a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arrest is under way.

India has termed the treatment meted out to the diplomat as “absolutely unacceptable.” In a return match, India has bulldozed the security cordon around the US Embassy in New Delhi and withdrawn all the VIP access for their senior staff. 

Khobragade was charged last week with visa fraud and making false statements.

Bad show all round. Was it racist? Echo answers that. After all, she is colored and Santa is white, Megyn. 


Source: Arab News

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