Even as the Devyani Khobragade case continues to garner outrage among top politicians in the Capital, Uttam Khobragade, the diplomat’s father, said that if the government didn’t take proper measures and brought his daughter home, he would fast unto death.
The retired IAS officer, whose daughter was arrested in New York on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her nanny, held a press conference at Juhu and said that it was time the Prime Minister intervened in the matter and asked the US government to drop all charges against Devyani.
“The arrest of my daughter in the US is an attack on the sovereignty of the country and the country should react to this injustice that has been meted out to an Indian diplomat. This is nothing but a conspiracy and I appeal to the PM to speak to the US and ask them to drop the charges against my daughter,” he said.
He added that he would wait for the immediate developments and go to New Delhi next week. “I shall try to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. But if my daughter does not get justice, I plan to launch a hunger strike,” added Khobragade.
When asked if India’s reaction to the incident was justified, he said that the approach was correct, but more efforts had to be taken and he would do all in his power to bring his daughter home, even if he had to fast unto death.
Khobragade further spoke of Sangeeta Richards, the maid, who is in the middle of this entire controversy. “Sangita Richards stole $200 from my son-in-law and, before she went missing, even stole a mobile from my daughter’s home. When we informed the Indian government, they told us to register a complaint. Acting on this, we filed a complaint in August-September, but the US police are yet to arrest Richards.”
Last week, Devyani Khobragade, India’s Deputy Consul General in New York was arrested by the US State Department’s diplomatic security bureau and handed over to the US Marshals Service. Khobragade was taken into custody when she was dropping her daughter to school, and was subjected to a humiliating strip search, swabbed for DNA and kept in a cell with drug addicts -- a claim rejected by the US. She was later released on a $250,000 bail.
India hit back at the US, and accused American officials of interfering with the Indian legal system. The ministry yesterday questioned the need for the US to stealthily evacuate from India the family of Richards, against whom Khobragade filed a case of cheating in New Delhi last year. The Indian statement said the US admission that it was necessary to evacuate the family of Richards ‘needs to be considered very carefully with regard to the implicit comment it makes’ about India’s legal system. “It needs to be asked what right a foreign government has to evacuate Indian citizens from India while cases are pending against them in the Indian legal system? When the legal process in another friendly and democratic country is interfered with in this manner, it not only amounts to interference but also raises the serious concern of calling into question the very legal system of that country. It is our considered view that this statement is one more attempt at a post facto rationalisation for an action that should never have taken place in the first instance.”
US diplomats lose their airport passes
US diplomats in India were yesterday deprived of their airport passes as part of reciprocal measures taken by India. Three days ago, police had removed barricades outside the US embassy in the Capital.