Devyani Khabrogade's arrest: Furious India downgrades privileges of US diplomats

DevyaniDiplomatic crisis between India and the US over the arrest of diplomat Devyani Khobragade deepened further. (PTI)

Outraged by the details of the alleged harsh treatment meted out to its deputy consul-general in New York, India Tuesday retaliated strongly with a series of measures that jolted the perception of friendly ties between New Delhi and Washington.

US consulate staff and their families were asked to return their diplomatic ID cards; details of Indians employed, along with their bank accounts and PAN numbers, sought; names and salaries of teachers employed at US embassy schools sought; import duty waivers, including permits to import liquor, withdrawn; and security barricades outside the US Embassy in Delhi removed.

Devyani Khobragade, the deputy consul-general, was arrested last week for alleged visa fraud while she had gone to drop her daughters to school.

Besides being handcuffed in public, Khobragade, 39, was not only stripped but also allegedly forced to undergo repeated body cavity searches - a treatment usually reserved for drug suspects - before she was freed on a $250,000 bail bond.

Subsequently, Khobragade narrated her ordeal in an email to her colleagues.

"I must admit that I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, hold up with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity," the 1999-batch IFS officer wrote.

She thanked her colleagues for their support and said that during her confinement, she "got the strength to regain composure and remain dignified thinking that I must represent all of my colleagues and my country with confidence and pride".

Disturbed by the details, New Delhi upped the ante and stripped US diplomats and their families in India of several privileges.

Taking the position that American staff at consulates will be treated at par with which Indian diplomats are treated in consulates in the US, all personnel posted in consulates and their families have been asked to turn in their diplomatic ID cards immediately.

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