Neerja Bhanotís mother points at US govtís Ďdouble-standardsí

The US government is showcasing its double-standards while dealing with the case of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested last week for visa fraud and other charges, according to the 84-year-old mother of Neerja Bhanot who fell to terrorists' bullets while saving US nationals in the hijacked Pan Am 73 airplane 27 years ago.

Rama Bhanot, whose daughter was bestowed the Ashok Chakra for her supreme sacrifice to save the lives of US citizens on board the aircraft, which was hijacked by Libya-backed terrorists at the Karachi Airport, said she is happy with the "strong" response of the Indian government to the "shabby and inhuman treatment" meted out to Khobragade.

She accused the US of having one set of rules for non-US citizens and completely different for its own people.

"When the US Attorney (Preet Bharara) claims that foreign citizens brought to the US to work as domestic workers are entitled to the same protections against exploitation as those enjoyed by US citizens, I can't but point to the irony in that statement," Bhanot said. "For, the same US government refuses to treat the case of Indians and people of other nationalities on the same level as that of its citizens when it comes to the issue of compensating them for the Pan Am incident."

"This is all the more ironic because the compensation was not to come out of the coffers of the US government but has been paid by the Libyan government as part of its settlement of the case. So what equality is the attorney referring to?" Bhanot asked.

She said it was time the Indian government took up "firmly" with the US government the issue of discrimination against Indians on the issue of compensation.

For the past three years, the 130-odd Indian citizens, who either lost their near ones or were themselves injured in the hijack, have been running from pillar to post, seeking parity in payment of compensation.

"It's not about the money. In fact, I don't need the money. Even the money that I received as insurance went to a trust in the memory of my daughter and every year the trust gives cash awards to brave Indian women. The issue here is discrimination. Neerja gave up her life for US citizens. And, look at how the US government is treating the victims of the hijack. And, now this attorney is trying to talk about the rights of the maid," Bhanot said.

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