Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde cancels meeting with US Congressional team
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today cancelled his meeting with a senior US Congressional delegation ostensibly as a mark of protest against the treatment meted out to India's Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade in New York
However, Home Ministry officials said Shinde is busy in Parliament and, hence, he will not be in a position to meet the American delegation. The Home Minister's programme, which was prepared last evening, had clearly mentioned the scheduled meeting at 1700 hours. Officials said the meeting was cancelled this morning.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar had yesterday cancelled her meeting with the delegation as she felt it was not "appropriate" to meet the Parliamentarians of the US, which has badly treated one of India's senior diplomats. National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, who also had a scheduled meeting with the five-member US team, did not meet them, apparently for the same reason.
The delegation comprised Congressmen George Holding (Republican - North Carolina), Pete Olson (Republican - Texas) David Schweikert (Republican - Arizona), Robert Woodall (Republican - Georgia) and Madeleine Bordallo (Democrat - Guam). The repeated snubs came after India reacted sharply to Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade being arrested and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges last week by summoning US Ambassador Nancy Powell and issuing a demarche in this regard.
In Washington also, the matter was taken up with the US government "forcefully" through the Indian mission. 39-year-old Khobragade, a 1999-batch IFS officer, was taken into custody on a street in New York as she was dropping her daughter to school before being released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.
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