Friday, December 27, 2013

World News: Indian officials outraged at diplomat's arrest and treatment in U.S.

The recent arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York has prompted officials in India to seek details about staff in American schools in the country for possible tax violations and other retaliatory steps, according to a report by Reuters.

The measures suggest that India and the United States are no closer to a resolution of a diplomatic dispute over the treatment of Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade (pictured above) this month on charges of visa fraud and underpayment of her housekeeper. Khobragade, who has denied the charges, was handcuffed and strip searched while in custody sparking outrage in India, according to Reuters.

An Indian government official said on Friday that New Delhi had asked the U.S. embassy to provide details about people working in American schools and other U.S. government facilities to determine if they had permission to do so and if they were paying taxes mandatory under Indian law. For instance, spouses of diplomats who work in schools or embassy facilities are supposed to inform the host country.

The U.S. embassy declined to comment on the latest steps while U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell has been refused special privileges at New Delhi airport. U.S. consular officials and their families have been asked to surrender ID cards that gave them immunity. Under a new Indian regime, consular officials (not their families) will be given ID cards with fewer privileges.

Khobragade was released in New York on $250,000 bail after giving up her passport and pleading not guilty to the charges. She faces a maximum 15 years in prison if convicted on both counts, Reuters reported. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is communicating with Indian officials who demand that the charges be dropped and the U.S. apologizes. However, U.S. prosecutors stand by their investigation against Khobragade and her treatment.

Khobragade was accredited to the United Nations at the time of her arrest, which should have granted her immunity. Indian officials claim that their country was not warned about any impending arrest. This incident has hampered U.S.-India relations that were seen as cordial and improving. What do you think of this? Should diplomatic officials and their families be granted immunity on every offense in both countries?

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