Drop case against Khobragade unconditionally, demands Khurshid

Salman KhurshidExternal Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said, “Our relationship has a lot of investment, it is an irreversible matter and we have to deal with it sensibly.” (IE photo)

India on Thursday demanded that the case against Devyani Khobragade should be dropped unconditionally. Noting that the case does not "deserve to be pursued" and should be withdrawn unconditionally, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said, "Our relationship has a lot of investment, it is an irreversible matter and we have to deal with it sensibly."

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also accused US federal prosecutor Preet Bharara of interfering with the Indian legal system and giving "post facto rationalisation" for an action that should never have taken place.

Khurshid said his American counterpart John Kerry had called him up on Wednesday night but he was not available at that time to take the call, and that is the reason the US Secretary of State talked to the National Security Advisor. "I was not available when John Kerry called. We are trying to lock a time for a call this evening or maybe tomorrow. Kerry is in the Philippines and there is a huge time difference," he said.

Though Khurshid said he was not available to take Kerry's call, speculation is that the call was not taken by the minister to show India's unhappiness over the case against its diplomat and the way she was treated.

Khurshid refused to comment on Bharara's statement defending the arrest and strip-search of Khobragade, saying he would not react to an individual's opinion. "This is not a case that deserves treating her like a common criminal...Our responsibility is to ensure dignity of the officer is preserved. We are not putting any terms except humane and responsible response to something of concern to us," he said.

But MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin criticised Bharara, saying, "The (Bharara's) statement in question acknowledges that legal processes were in place in India. Yet, incredibly, it invites speculation about why it was necessary to evacuate (Sangeeta) Richard's family and about the action purportedly being taken against them. The implication of this remarkable admission needs to be considered very carefully with regard to the implicit comment it makes about the Indian legal system, Indian law enforcement authorities, and the responsibility that legal officials of a foreign government seem to arrogate upon themselves with regard to the nationals of another country."

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